How VoteWa debuted in King, Pierce Counties

Aug 9, 2019, 11:23 AM
seattle elections...
(MyNorthwest photo)
(MyNorthwest photo)

The recent primary had more eyes on it than usual, perhaps because it was the first election that Washington used its new VoteWa system.

Latest election results

Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson watched August 6 as the election was underway and votes were counted. Meanwhile, north of Pierce County, King County Director of Elections Julie Wise was monitoring the primary election in her jurisdiction. Both had very different experiences.

“VoteWa is already showing a lot of value,” Anderson told KIRO Radio. “If this had been a larger election, we would have been really glad VoteWa is here.”

“This primary election really highlighted some areas in which we need to fix prior to going into the general election,” Wise said, commenting that voters received ballots with incorrect information and some were even sent to deceased residents.

VoteWa is Washington’s new election system, aimed at bringing elections into a more modern era. Before the primary, Secretary of State Kim Wyman told KIRO Radio that VoteWa is meant to make elections more secure and protect against things like voter fraud, duplicate voters, and Russian hackers. Washington was among 19 states targeted by Russian hackers during the 2016 election.

VoteWa doesn’t have anything to do with counting votes, rather, it deals with other aspects of elections, such as same (election) day registration. VoteWa allows the state’s 39 counties to see such updates in real time on election day.

VoteWa in King County

Wise said that King County experienced a “multitude of issues with VoteWa” in the lead up to the primary and on election day.

She says that VoteWa is the right direction for the state to go, but has reservations about how it was implemented. She said there were limited tests prior to the primary, and that King County faced a few “issues.”

“Including issues with mailing addresses, including issues that cropped up in the middle of an election … we saw issues with duplicate ballots being issued to voters with slightly different name differences,” Wise said.

For example, names like O’Neal, which could be spelled with or without an apostrophe. Wise also said that some ballots were sent to deceased voters. Some voters received a ballot with incorrect information on it, such as which district they were to vote on.

“My team worked tirelessly to create workarounds to fix those issues, to get us through this primary election,” she said, affirming that any issues are expected to be “ironed out” by November.

“As the elections director for nearly one third of our voters in Washington state, and an elections administrator for 19 years, I really take the public’s confidence in our election system very seriously,” Wise said. “That’s why I’ve been pretty adamant that I don’t believe you implement election equipment or technology during a live election without proper testing beforehand. It could have been worse, but the team worked really hard here to make sure we had an accurate election.”

VoteWa in Pierce County

Anderson, reports a different experience. In Pierce County, she says election day went well. In fact, said that she “would not want to be an elections administrator anywhere else in country.”

Seattle council primary sees a handful of surprises as races take shape

“The August 6 primary was really smooth, both for our voters and our election workers,” Anderson said. “We wish turnout had been higher, of course, but it felt like an ordinary primary election. Everything proceeded as usual.”

Anderson said that Pierce County did not see any of the issues that King County experienced. There were complexities, she said, but the VoteWa system worked and Pierce County was able to “navigate those complexities well.” While the system worked, she said there will be some tweaks to make it run even better before the November election.

“(VoteWa) is already ready for the November election, but it’s going to be even better,” she said.

Local News

bellevue prostitution, home invasions, licton springs, fbi...
KIRO Radio Newsdesk

US Marshal Fugitive Task Force shoot suspect in Des Moines

A wanted fugitive was shot by an officer near a Safeway grocery store on Pacific Highway South in Des Moines.
1 day ago
Nicole Jennings

Washington health leaders say not enough people getting vaccine as cases plateau

While hundreds of thousands more people will soon be able to get the vaccine in Washington, it is still not enough to get the state to herd immunity.
1 day ago
Olympia shooting...
KIRO Radio Newsdesk

Washington State Patrol investigates shooting in Olympia near capitol

Washington State Patrol is investigating after a shooting in Olympia at the north end of Capitol Lake on Deschutes Parkway on Wednesday. 
1 day ago
Marginal Way...
Kathryn Altena

South Park Bridge, East Marginal Way South reopen after storm damage

It's been more than two days, but both the South Park Bridge and East Marginal Way South are back open after suffering damage from the weekend's storm. 
1 day ago
KIRO Radio Newsdesk

FAA flags potential safety problems for Boeing’s 767 and 757

Boeing hit yet another stumbling block this week, with the Federal Aviation Administration flagging potential safety problems with two of its planes.
1 day ago
MyNorthwest Staff

First Seattle homeless residents moving in to King County’s hotel

A hotel that's part of King County's "Health Through Housing" initiative in North Seattle will welcome its first residents this week. 
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
How VoteWa debuted in King, Pierce Counties