Last fall's election in Seattle was a big freakin' deal—every City Council seat was contested—but less than one in three voters bothered participating. Within that small subset, some of the highest concentrations of voters were in wealthy areas—parts of town with waterfront views.
Back in 2012, we asked, "Why are there ZERO ballot drop boxes in Southeast Seattle (the most racially diverse part of the city)?" We got a non-answer from King County Elections: Welp, these are the locations that were decided on. Derp.
A plan developed by the new director of King County Elections, Julie Wise, would install 33 ballot drop boxes around King County, including four in South Seattle, to finally fix this problem. If the County Council swiftly implements it, the new boxes will be available for your ballot-dropping needs before the November election.
The plan includes new ballot drop boxes at the New Holly, Beacon Hill, and South Park libraries, as well as at the Rainier Community Center.
The plan (PDF) would also add boxes at UW, the International District/Chinatown, White Center, and Highline College. The Central District's Douglass Truth Library is a desired location but isn't available in 2016. Here's the map:
"I wanted to increase voter access and convenience, and some of that through is ballot access," said Wise, who ran on offering voters more ballot boxes.
Wise used a scoring system based on "geographic equity"—racial diversity, household income, English proficiency, accessibility, and other factors—to decide on where to propose the new ballot boxes. She says under the plan, 91.5 percent of King County residents will live within three miles of a ballot drop box.
Seattle currently has just two ballot drop locations: The Ballard library and the King County Administration Building in downtown.
The county council will take up the plan—which costs just $240,00 and uses local company LaserFab LLC for construction and installation—in committee next week.
Another problem with our voting system? Most people send in their ballots by mail, but you have to pay for your own postage. It should be free. Last time I talked to the county, a spokesperson said there were no plans to implement pre-paid postage.
But Wise struck a totally different note: "Myself and Executive Constantine are very interested in moving to prepaid postage for our ballots," she said. "I'd like to try that out [with a pilot project] early next year... I completely support and really love the idea of prepaid postage."