It's common practice to go "ballot chasing" in close political races, and the Seattle primary is no exception. With 2,578 votes making up the difference between Cary Moon and Nikkita Oliver for the second place slot in the general election, the Oliver campaign announced today that volunteers will door-bell every day through the next week to make sure her voters' ballots get counted.
According to a King County Elections spokesperson, there are currently 2,200 challenged ballots so far in the ongoing vote count—typically because the voter forgot to sign their ballot or their signature didn't match the one the agency had on file. King County Elections makes multiple attempts to follow up with voters who have challenged ballots by calling, e-mailing, and sending a letter, but campaigns also take it upon themselves to remind their voting bases to correct the record if they forgot to sign.
"Just because election day has come and gone, doesn't mean that the process is over," Oliver said in a statement. "Centering marginalized voices starts with making sure that they are heard. These are people trying to participate in the political process, and this campaign and the Seattle Peoples Party will work until the final bell to ensure that they are counted regardless of who they intend to vote for.”
Oliver's campaign has also claimed, "First-time and inconsistent voters as well as those who face language barriers — often immigrants, young people, and working-class people — are the most likely to have their ballots disqualified." I asked King County Elections about that claim, but a spokesperson said they have no data to confirm what the Oliver campaign said.
Update: Jenny Durkan's campaign released a statement after today's ballot drop that it "strongly supports the efforts of the Oliver campaign" in ballot chasing. Durkan, whose lead has dropped to a slightly smaller proportion of the vote—28.7 percent to Cary Moon's 17.38 percent and Oliver's 16.05 percent—is doing it, too.
"Our city should be united in efforts to ensure all voices are heard and all votes are counted," Durkan said in the statement. "There is no more fundamental right in democracy than the right to vote. And there is no question that marginalized communities face the greatest barriers in voting— including a history of institutional, race based efforts to suppress or deny the right to vote. In 2004, I helped wage an historic, statewide fight to help chase ballots, fix signature problems, and ensure all votes were counted. The efforts changed the outcome of a Governor’s race. Out of approximately 2.9 million votes cast, the race finally was decided by a difference of 139 votes. This is why our campaign was contacting voters last week to let them know their ballots were not being counted, and why I strongly support the efforts of the Oliver campaign."
Update #2: Cary Moon issued a statement saying that she too is encouraging her supporters to chase ballots—with Oliver's campaign. "I share Nikkita Oliver campaign's concerns that ballots of first time voters, infrequent voters, and those who face language barriers, are more frequently contested than others," Moon said in an e-mailed statement. "That's why I'm encouraging my supporters to work with the Oliver campaign to contact voters whose ballots are contested (sign up form)." She has not yet claimed a victory in the primary race.