Glitch delays ballots for 11,000 Eastside voters, including Newcastle residents

October 28, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

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NEW — 5:15 p.m. Oct. 28, 2011

King County Elections officials said ballots for 11,000 Eastside voters — including more than 100 people in Newcastle — did not go out last week as planned due to a glitch.

The elections office plans to mail ballots Saturday; voters should receive them early next week. The deadline to return ballots via mail, drop box or accessible voting center is Nov. 8.

Overall, the issue impacted 11,000 Eastside voters, including 54 in Issaquah, 141 in Newcastle and 875 in Sammamish. Some North Bend and Snoqualmie voters also face delays in receiving ballots.

King County Elections started mailing 1.1 million ballots to voters Oct. 19.

“Fortunately, we had some voters who were on top of it and that tipped us off to start checking and seeing if there were any anomalies,” King County Elections spokeswoman Kim van Ekstrom said. “There are always voters who don’t get their ballots. Things happen, and that’s why they have several weeks to try to connect with us.”

Officials review calls to the elections office’s phone bank to determine if any issues arise during the election. In recent days, the office started to receive calls from Eastside voters about not receiving ballots in the mail.

What to know

Newcastle News seeks Issaquah, Newcastle, North Bend, Sammamish and Snoqualmie voters still waiting for a ballot as a result of a glitch.

Email your contact information to reporter Warren Kagarise at wkagarise@isspress.com by noon Oct. 31.

The office hears from a small percentage of voters in every elections about not receiving a ballot. Call the voter hotline at 206-296-VOTE.

“In every single election, you hear a fair amount from us about, if you haven’t received your ballot, call us, call us, call us,” van Ekstrom said.

The reason for the delay remains unknown.

“We were able to clearly figure out who didn’t get them, but we’re still not completely sure on why it happened,” van Ekstrom said. “We’re still trying to figure that out.”

Officials check ballots throughout the process, from printing and insertion into envelopes to mailing and then to the Renton elections office for tabulation.

“We investigated the matter and discovered a technical problem associated with part of our voter database that resulted in exclusion of these ballots from being mailed on the date originally scheduled,” Elections Director Sherril Huff said in a statement issued Friday afternoon. “Quality assurance is an important component of our elections processes and while we regret that this event occurred, I’m pleased that the reviews we have in place helped us in identifying and problem solving the issue.”

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