Dempsey Indoor Center, one of two accessible voting sites in Seattle, starting Halloween

For most of us, voting could not be easier. Every registered voter with their address of record up-to-date gets a ballot in the mail. Return postage is pre-paid. There are also plenty of ballot drop boxes open. Ones close to light rail stations include the Beacon Hill Library, Uwajimaya, the King County Administration Building, and the northeast corner of the Edison Building at Seattle Central College,

The King County Elections Department recommends that you mail your ballot by Friday, October 30, in order to make sure it gets postmarked by election day, the following Tuesday. After that, it is recommended that you use one of the many drop boxes that are available 24/7 now through 8 pm on November 3.

You can also vote online.

You can register to vote online, or by snail mail, up until October 26.

UPDATE: In-person voting registration is available through Election Day at the accessible voting sites, but the County urges everyone to use the voting centers only if they have to. Wearing a face covering over the nose and mouth will be required.

If you want to vote behind a curtain of privacy, King County has accessible voting machines set up at its election headquarters, available 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday – Friday until the weekend before the election. The HQ is a long three blocks from the nearest F Line stop at Lind Ave SW and SW Grady Way.

Then, several more accessible voting sites will be available on Halloween (Saturday October 31, 10 am – 4 pm), Monday November 2, 8:30 am – 6 pm, and Election day, 8:30 am – 8 pm.

In some past years, voting machines have been set up in the great hall of Sound Transit’s headquarters, sandwiched between International District / Chinatown Station and King Street Station, with long lines to vote there as the 8 pm deadline approached. That was the gold standard of voting accessibility. Then the downtown voting site moved to the King County Administration Building, the silver standard of accessibility.

This year, an accessible voting site will be available at the spacious Century Link Field Event Center, at the southwest corner of the campus, on Occidental Ave S and S Royal Brougham Way, a mere several football field’s walk west of Stadium Station. The map linked on KC Election’s website is a little confusing. Just go to the WaMu Theater, not where the red flag is. Otherwise, you’ll be on the wrong side of the building. In past years, KC Elections has provided its own simpler maps, not reliant on the TMI of a private mapping company, to voting sites.

Since a downtownish voting site will have been set up at the southwest corner of the Clink, there will be no walk-in voting site downtown.

The only other accessible voting site in Seattle will be at the Dempsey Indoor Center (named after Neal, not Clint, in case you were wondering), two large buildings east of Alaska Airlines Arena and just northeast of Husky Stadium, a decent walk from UW Station.

Per Kendall Hodson at King County Elections:

We’ve got seven vote centers for this election and the two in Seattle are at the CenturyLink Field Event Center and the Dempsey Practice Field at UW, both of which are next to light rail stations. Transit is always a key consideration for us in siting both drop boxes and vote centers but with the pandemic, our primary criteria for this election was identifying vote center locations where we’d have adequate space to get good social distancing, which is why you primarily see them in event center-type spaces (e.g. Federal Way Performing Arts Center and ShoWare Center).

Bellevue’s accessible voting site has been moved from Bellevue City Hall to Bellevue College’s gymnasium.

Kent’s accessible voting site will be at the ShoWare Center, a few blocks northwest of Kent Station. Routes 150 and 161 stop close to the arena.

Federal Way’s otherwise-mothballed Performing Arts Center will become an accessible voting site for those three days. It is a couple blocks northwest of Federal Way Transit Center.

Kenmore City Hall will be the most traditional host location for an accessible voting site. It is a mere three blocks’ walk north of the ST Express 522 stops closest to 68th Ave NE.

While the question of who will win Washington’s presidential electors will not be in doubt (hopefully for the last time), there is plenty down-ballot to vote on, including continuation of some funding for the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (really, entirely about transit).

34 Replies to “Less-accessible voting sites and other easier ways to vote”

  1. For security reasons, King County Elections doesn’t publish a pick-up schedule for drop boxes, but almost every box is emptied every day. Some boxes have to be emptied several times a day. Don’t worry, your ballot won’t be sitting in the box for 2 weeks.

    I received my ballot last Friday and I filled it out and returned it to the drop box at the Rainier Community Center almost immediately. The ballot tracker at King County Elections is showing that my ballot has been received at HQ and is awaiting signature verification.

    Ballot tracker link:

    1. This. While a lit match is certainly a real threat to any dropbox (King County or USPS), the two week fearmongering is uncalled for

      1. The arson of a box in a Latino neighborhood in California last night should be a wake-up call to empty boxes frequently, and at least daily.

        Same goes for USPS, especially on E-Day. Treat it the same as tax day.

    2. Perfect.

      Yeah, I live in Edmonds and have used Snohomish County Elections drop boxes since day one and have never encountered any problems. (I too track my ballot via the county’s website.) Now, with the Resident’s toady DeJoy doing his bidding by messing up USPS operations, I’m even less inclined to mail my ballot in. SnoCo Elections says that the two dozen drop boxes they have set up are emptied by staff “as needed” but I’m pretty sure that the box I’ve been using, which is a very popular one, is emptied daily during the week up to Election Day. While there is some risk from tampering with all drop boxes, including the blue ones with the USPS lettering, I think this is minimal and thus will continue to return my household’s ballots using the same county drop box I’ve been using for years.

      1. In case anyone is wondering, you can drop a WA ballot into any drop box in WA and it will be forwarded to the proper county. If King County receives a ballot for Whatcom County, the ballot will be forwarded to Whatcom County for processing (and vice versa).

      2. Since they’re properly-addressed envelopes you could probably drop them off in any ballot dropbox and they’d get to the correct location eventually.

    3. Putting a ballot in the mail increases the election commission’s costs because they have to pay postage on it. If hundreds of thousands of people do it because of the vanishingly small chance that somebody might set fire to the drop box — something that has never happened in King County — it’s just paranoia that has externalities, in this case the postage costs that will have to come from taxes.

      1. Good point, Mike Orr. While there are certainly costs involved with ballot drop box administration (on top of the initial capital costs and installation), prepaid postage comes with a cost as well. Here’s a link to the fiscal note attached to the bill that made prepaid postage return envelopes for ballots a reality here in our state:

        Here are a couple of links to relevant, interesting pieces on ballot drop boxes, the first discussing their design and security features, and the second about their increased use, particularly this year.

    1. Thanks! All the county webpages seem to be updated on that point. As now is this post.

      That said, they highly encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunity to register by mail or online through October 26 — the safest option for everyone’s health.

      If you have to go to a voting center, you will be required to wear a face covering over your nose and mouth. Be sure to have one with you, as I don’t know if they will have an unlimited supply of single-use masks.

  2. I already talked to one person who was considering not voting because the high-profile races for president (in WA) and governor were expected to be not close. I told them that Seattle transit was also on the ballot and, even if they leave the rest of the ballot blank, they should still vote to support the transit system. (The person I was talking to remains a regular transit rider through the pandemic). Likely result: +1 for Seattle prop 1, with possible upballot votes as well.

    Normally, with a Seattle-only electorate in a presidential race, the outcome should not be close. But, nobody knows what percentage of voters have subscribed to the kool-aid that the pandemic has made transit obsolete, so it is best to taking nothing for granted.

    If everybody on STB can find one irregular voter friend who rides or cares about transit, and remind them about prop 1, the effects can and do add up.

      1. [ot] and that includes walking on eggshells to get to the voting sites listed in the article (and I am truly glad for the information here – for example, I was not aware all drop sites are open 24-7).

    1. Regardless of whether it’s close or it doesn’t help the electoral college formula, everyone should vote. It adds to the popular vote, reveals the will of the people more clearly, and either adds or subtracts from the winner’s mandate. I don’t just want my favorite candidate and Prop 1 to win, I want them to win by the largest margin possible, and I want my +1 to be in there regardless of the outcome.

      1. If you lived in Wisconsin, or even Pennsylvania, your vote might matter. In WA might as well vote your conscience, because Biden will win.

        Lincoln could be the Republican candidate for governor and state Democrats would vote for Inslee because it is all about allocating the money, not any grand vision.

        I have to sympathize with progressives who got Biden — co-sponsor of the 1984 and 1994 crime bills, and leading advocate for the second gulf war (and every other war) — as their “progressive” candidate. Irony of ironies voters on Mercer Island who are mostly quite progressive — in a suburban sort of way — are dismayed that Biden is their choice, but Satan to them is better than Trump. Or the same.

        But it came down to Biden or Sanders, who would have surely lost because young people don’t vote. It is like 1992 when Bush I had a 90% approval rating after the first Iraq war, and so all the best Democrat candidates decided to not run, which left a young and flawed governor from Arkansas (who was hardly a progressive in his eight years). Everyone assumed in 2019 during primary season with the strong national economy Trump would win reelection, so all the top Democrats figured they would wait until 2024 and run against Mike Pence.

        Hard to imagine that in America with a capital “A” our choice is Trump or Biden.

        I sympathize with whomever is elected — which right now looks like with the electoral system will come down to WI — because the next four years will have no Supreme Court vacancies and a very conservative Court, and probably another year of pandemic, followed by three years of recession and a national debt that was loaded up with nearly $4 trillion in debt.

        As I always say, you can’t be a progressive without a lot of tax revenue, and Covid-19 has made all the states red states: low service, with the only real question low or high tax. Conservative Republicans are the ones who profited the most from Covid-19 because the future –based on available revenue — fits their low tax, low service vision. If you doubt this look how the pandemic has exacerbated the wealth gap.

  3. Thanks, Brent. But King County’s voting-place location someplace barely in walking distance of Stadium Station, and instructions could not have been better-designed by anybody south of the Mason Dixon Line. To discourage voting that’s illegal by reason of being pro-Biden.

    Like with so much else to do with both Sound Transit and the rest of Government, most deadly COVID side-effect is the complete loss of the need and ability to make anything comprehensible. That’s the disease for which I’m praying for a cure.

    The loss of The Great Hall for a voting place. Was that due to COVID, or what was the reason? Because as a centralized transit-accessible voting place, there ought to be a law to make it permanent.

    And also, this is first I’ve heard of any danger of my vote getting burned-in-the-box. Do we have any instances? Because Olympia City Hall’s drop box is right across the street from my morning coffee, I know I would’ve noticed scorch-marks.

    Culprits I think likely, since the city hall also houses the police station, instead of just spider-cracking anymore windows they would’ve just burned down the whole building. But- not very wise to give them any ideas.

    Mark Dublin

  4. Daniel, for how many young people will vote and how, same as for your Link ridership projections, and which subarea of the region will, when COVID’s OV-er, “House the most Power:”

    Prove it. Reason I’m not a betting man is that I don’t think the Redwing Casino over by Yelm would risk the effect of somebody on property who looks like me could have on their normal patronage.

    So I’ll just have to wait a couple weeks for the accuracy of my own youth electoral “take” to materialize. For this Election, that is.

    My real-world dealings with people of this age group have recently saved me a considerable amount of money and a world of grief by saving their own corporate bosses the consequences of their own mistakes.

    So my instincts tell me that if the Class of 2020 decide to sit this one out, it’ll just give them more deliberation time for 2024.

    Will also bet you a Starbucks that some of Ballard-Link’s incipient Link-fed population of Islandexiles are only FAKING when they say they won’t return home and open a campaign office right at the Island Crest bus stop.

    Mark Dublin

  5. “Kent’s accessible voting site will be at the ShoWare Center, a few blocks northwest of Kent Station. Routes 150 and 161 stop close to the arena.”

    That should be the 183 not the 161. (The 162 also stops there but in the peak direction only.)

    1. Or you can put your ballot in your mailbox and put the red flag up and the mail person will deliver it. Return postage is pre-paid so no need for a stamp. Just sign the back of the envelope. If mailed on or before Election Day your ballot is timely.

      1. Your ballot is timely if it is POSTMARKED on or before election day, not MAILED. Don’t drop your ballot in a blue postal box or have your carrier pick it up on Nov. 3rd–it may not get postmarked in time.

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