RENTON, Wash. — A man in western Washington posted a claim on social media that his ballot never arrived in the mail and then he was notified that someone else had voted for him.
King County Elections headquarters in Renton gave KING 5 a look at where every single ballot in the county will eventually end up and what actually happened to the man's ballot.
“We’ve got layers and layers of both physical and cyber security in the place that we are processing ballots,” said Kendall Hodson the King County Elections chief of staff.
For more than a decade, Washingtonians have voted by mail – it’s a system that works, but it’s not impervious to mistakes.
“They had been keeping an eye out for their ballot, were expecting it in the mail and it never arrived,” Hodson said referring to the claim in question, “Understandably a really concerning situation for the voter.”
Hodson said her office was also tagged in the social media post by a man who claimed he never received his ballot and that someone else voted for him. As it turns out, they had already caught the error.
“So what is supposed to happen is exactly what happened in this situation. Our team looked at it and said ‘nope that doesn’t match the signature for this voter, we’re going to have to flag it,’” Hodson said.
Turns out, according to elections officials, the ballot in question was filled out by the man’s neighbor, most likely by mistake – an issue that does happen but it’s not as common as one might think.
Take the 2021 primary elections, according to the Office of the Secretary of State, 19,509 ballots were rejected. That's 1.5% percent of the total votes cast. Of the rejected ballots, 59% were mailed too late, and 26% were rejected because the signature did not match.
In the 2020 elections, their office turned just 17 alleged voter fraud cases over to the prosecuting attorney’s office. That’s far less than 1% of all votes cast.
This year, there are new measures to make sure everyone’s vote is counted. Voters can now opt-in to receive text or email updates on their ballot’s progress. Webcams have been installed in the elections office so that anyone can monitor from anywhere on the election’s website.
“It’s exciting. Our team spends all year preparing for a big election like this so it’s nice to have it finally happening,” Hodson said.
As of Friday, more than 100,000 votes are inside this building, just a fraction of the more than a million that will be counted in this midterm election.