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caption: Fendalene Hegg, 28, signs her ballot before voting on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, at the ballot drop box outside of the Seattle Public Library Beacon Hill Branch in Seattle.
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Fendalene Hegg, 28, signs her ballot before voting on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, at the ballot drop box outside of the Seattle Public Library Beacon Hill Branch in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Signed, sealed, delivered: A guide to voting by mail in King County

Washington state has been voting by mail for about a decade, so this year's general election should be smooth-sailing.

If this is your first time voting or you need a refresher on how to do it, here's a step-by-step guide.

1. Ballots arrive in the mail

King County mailed ballots to voters on Wednesday and they should start appearing in mailboxes by Thursday, October 15. Kendell Hodson of King County Elections said that if, for some reason, voters "haven't received their ballot by Monday, October 19, that's when they should definitely give us a call or go online so we can get them a replacement ballot."

2. Fill out your ballot

The 2020 Washington State Voters Guide has already been mailed out to voters. It is also available online, in multiple languages and in audio format.

3. Sign your ballot

After completing your ballot, it must tbe sealed, dated, and signed. Your signature is required for your ballot to be accepted. The signature must match the one election officials have on file. If you're unsure what that signature is or can't remember, Hodson has this tip:

"It's often the signature on the back of your driver's license. If you registered online or through the Department of Licensing, that's the signature that we're going to have for you. Otherwise, it's whatever you use on a voter registration form."

If, for whatever reason, your signature is not accepted or you forgot to sign your ballot, Hodson says you can request a form to correct it at the county's website.

4. Turn your ballot in

In King County you can either take your ballot to a mailbox or to one of the county's 72 drop boxes open 24-hours a day starting Thursday, October 15. Ballots are due by 8 P.M. on Tuesday, November 3rd but Hodson strongly encourages everyone to get their ballot in as soon as possible.

"That is what is going to help us stay ahead of large congregations of people at drop boxes on election night," she said. "It's also going to help us get as many results as possible in that election night results posting."

Starting Thursday, these drop boxes will be emptied each day except for Sundays until election day. Busier drop boxes could be emptied multiple times a day, and elections officials will be at the boxes on November 3 to answer any last minute voting questions.

5. Track your ballot

This year, you can track your ballot from the time you drop it off to when it has been successfully accepted and counted.

The King County Elections website has a tab called "My Voter Information." With this feature, Hodson said, will let voters know when their ballot has been mailed out, their signature has been verified, and their ballot has been counted.

If you have not received your ballot by Monday, October 19, received the wrong ballot, or received a duplicate ballot, contact King County Elections at 206-296-8683 or elections@kingcounty.gov.