Julie Wise, Director of King County Elections.
Julie Wise, Director of King County Elections. COURTESY OF KING COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF ELECTIONS

As the Director of Elections, sometimes I forget how intimidating voting can be. Even practiced voters can be overwhelmed when faced with a lengthy voters’ pamphlet, complicated ballot language, and races for positions they’ve never even heard of.

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For new voters, it can be downright daunting. Wait, my ballot comes in the mail? Then what do I do with it? Did I put it in the return envelope properly? Do I have to read this entire 125 page voters’ pamphlet?

Here’s the good news. You’re not going to do it wrong.

You also don’t need to read that entire voters’ pamphlet—just the races on your ballot! Except for voting when you aren’t eligible, which is a felony, there is very little you can to do to invalidate your ballot. Because Washington is a “voter intent state,” we go to great lengths to ensure your ballot is counted as you intended.

Forgot to put your ballot in the security sleeve? Not an issue. We receive ballots without the security sleeve all the time. Your ballot will still be kept secret and counted.

Used a pink glitter pen to fill in the ovals? While that's not exactly recommended, it’s all good. Our scanners can read it.

Skipped some races? No problem. Vote on whatever you’re comfortable with. Forgot to sign the back of your return envelope? We can fix that. We’ll email, call and snail mail you until it’s resolved.

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Midterms matter. There are so many important issues and races on the ballot this year, from statewide initiatives to congressional seats to your local state legislators. These are the decisions that will determine the direction of our community, state and nation in the years to come.

Voting is important and it’s your civic duty. While you might feel stress about your decisions on candidates and ballot measures, you absolutely should not feel stress about the process, including how you return your ballot. It’s easier than ever with prepaid postage and 66 ballot drop boxes across the county. Happy voting!

Julie Wise was elected as the King County Elections Director in November 2015 and will serve during the 2016-2019 term. Wise is a Washington State certified Election Administrator and is a nationally Certified Election Registration Administrator. She has served King County voters for more than 15 years.