Today King County Elections (KCE) tallied up 2,400 votes across the county, still scraping the bottom of the ballot barrel in the 2023 general elections. 

With that drop, District 4 Seattle City Council candidate Ron Davis narrowed the gap between himself and establishment pick Maritza Rivera by 41 votes. He now only trails her by 262 votes, compared to 303 yesterday. According to the County's ballot return tracker, the elections department flagged 218 votes in that district for signature problems. Davis's consultant, Matthew Lang, claims hundreds of ballots remain uncounted in that district, and the campaign plans to stay in the fight until the end. 

You should stay in the fight, too. As Hannah wrote yesterday, you can do your part by making sure your vote counted. And today, the United States Postal Service gave us all one more reason to double check our ballot status. 

According to a spokesperson for KCE, on Monday the agency "was alerted" that "there were concerns" about a mail carrier not emptying a USPS box at East John Street and 15th Avenue East (or 15th and John) during the voting period, and that voters had dropped their ballots in that box.

When KCE inquired, USPS looked into it and learned that no carrier had opened the box since mid-October. Their investigation of that box yielded 85 ballots, which they delivered to the elections department today. 

State law allows elections agencies to examine ballots received from the USPS for eligibility and then count them up using the date provided on the signature line, provided those ballots don't feature a postmark or other identifying barcodes from the feds. 

The KCE spokesperson said all 85 ballots featured signature dates for Election Day or before, so they're now going through the signature verification process. 

This year, the USPS planned to install 12,000 new "high-security" mail boxes in "high security risk areas" across the country as part of Project Safe Delivery, an initiative to cut down on mail theft. A source within USPS told The Stranger that mail carriers must connect their scanners to the boxes in order to open them, but if the device inside the box isn't working, then the box won't open. (Our source also said to please empty your mailboxes, because carriers are tired of cramming catalogues and political mailers into full boxes.)

As far as the KCE spokesperson knew, only this one mail box had this issue. I asked a USPS spokesperson for a list of high-security mail box locations in Seattle and if any other boxes had this issue. 

The spokesperson did not answer either of my questions, but here is her reply:

We are aware of a collection box in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, scheduled for removal due to a lock issue. Our employees placed 'out of service' signs on the box multiple times, but the signage was removed, and unwitting customers continued to use the box. We have now removed the collection box and its contents, including some Election Mail and ballots, and are delivering the mail. We are repairing the collection box and intend to reinstall it when repairs are complete. We regret any inconvenience to customers.

The best way to know if your vote counted is to track your ballot and sign up for ballot alerts. If you're subscribed to those alerts, then you will get a text and/or email when there’s an issue with your signature and when they verify your signature. Voters with signature challenges will also get a letter and a resolution form from KCE, plus an email and phone call if you've provided your contact info.

If you do run into a signature challenge, then you have until 4:30 pm on November 27 to resolve it by filling out a signature resolution form, which you can now access online