Spokane County Elections Office ready to mail ballots out this week, earlier than normal

SPOKANE, Wash. — More than 340,000 ballots are sorted, sealed and ready to go out to Spokane County voters this week.

We’re less than a month out until Election Day, and ballots in Spokane County will be mailed out a week earlier than usual. Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton says they are usually mailed out 18 days before the big day.

Dalton says the ballots will be mailed out on Thursday and Friday.

“This, for us, is like Santa Claus as you’re getting the sleigh ready to take off,” she said.

Due to postal service delays, Dalton says the Secretary of  State’s Office is allowing counties mail ballots out early.

“The auditors and Secretary of State met several weeks ago when there were still issues concerning the postal service,” she said. “We made the decision to send ballots out earlier to give more transit time in the mail both going to the voter and then coming back to the elections office.”

If a voter recently moved or made any other changes to their address, it is possible they will be sent a replacement ballot. But, that doesn’t mean both will be counted.

Each voter still only has one vote.

“In the computer system, that original ballot will be marked as canceled and the replacement ballot will become the active ballot. Even if both ballots return to us, we know exactly which ballot it is in the sequence,” she explained.

Each ballot is put into its individual envelopes by a machine. Spokane County Elections staff oversee all of that. Those workers are trained and screened to handle ballots.

In just a few days, elections staff will be delivering the bins full of ballots to the postal service, too.

Although the ballots are ready to be mailed out as of Tuesday, which is a day earlier than the office expected, Dalton says they do have to wait until Thursday. She says there are many factors into waiting until October 8 such as scheduling, getting trucks to the office and more.

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About half the ballots marked by voters will get back to the elections office by mail. The other half will be dropped off in the elections drop boxes.

If voters wait until the last minute to drop off ballots, Dalton asks them to check the last pickup time on that collection box to make sure it gets postmarked on Election Day.

“This is how democracy survives. So, please, mark your ballot, sign your envelope, get it back to us,” Dalton said.

Dalton says ballots should get to Spokane County voter mailboxes around October 13. If voters don’t get their ballot by October 19, contact the elections office.

If anyone has a question about ballot security or any other questions, Dalton invites voters to call the Spokane County Elections Office at 509-477-2320.

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