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Late voters find long lines in Seattle and Bellevue

caption: Lines of voters stretch out the door at a voting center in Ballard on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022.
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1 of 2 Lines of voters stretch out the door at a voting center in Ballard on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022.
Courtesy of Bill Monroe / Strokecast

Voters in some locations across Seattle and Bellevue waited hours in frigid temperatures to register and cast their ballots Tuesday night.

At the Lumen Field Event Center, voters stood in unusually long lines in blustery 38-degree weather. King County election officials confirmed two- to three-hour wait times on Tuesday.

Other locations were busy, too. A voter waiting to drop off his ballot at the Ballard branch of the Seattle Public Library was exasperated at the long lines during the midterms, which historically have lower turnout than a general election.

"It's typical for us to see about 50% of our turnout the day of the election and the day before, so pretty common for us,” said King County Elections Director Julie Wise. “But I think our vote centers are a little bit busier than we expected to see."

Many of the issues were at county vote centers, where people can register, update records, or get help completing ballots. There’s also help for people with disabilities.

Wise had words for the procrastinators: vote centers have been open since Friday and voters received ballots about three weeks ago.

"If you do wait until Election Day, especially in a midterm or presidential (election), you are going to experience some wait time."

Many of those stuck in line were first-time voters; the majority, about 60%, had issues finding their ballots because they moved or misplaced their ballots, Wise said.

"It's too bad that some folks like Earthbeam felt cold and had to wait a little bit longer than they would have expected,” Wise commented about a video posted on Twitter after a voter waited three hours in line. “But all in all, this is a good successful election.”

Election officials posted a message for those frustrated by the long lines at Lumen Field noting vote centers in Kent, Kenmore, and Federal Way had no wait times.

Some voters in Ballard, Greenwood, and West Seattle also reported issues with full ballot boxes. County election officials sent staff to empty ballot boxes that were reportedly full.

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