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What are all those barcodes on your King County ballot?

The barcodes are to help the elections department and the voter track their ballot from start to finish.

If you have received your King County ballot, you may have noticed there are several barcodes on the original and return envelopes. So, what are they for? 

Some KING 5 viewers have asked if any of the barcodes are to identify a voter's party affiliation. A King County Elections spokesperson confirmed that is not the case, none of the barcodes have anything to do with party affiliation.  

They do have everything to do with helping the elections department and the voter track their ballot. 

You may see up to four barcodes on your ballot. Two of them are specific to the Ballot ID and voter ID, which is a unique number assigned to that ballot and that voter. 

Both of these barcodes help the elections office track the ballot and the voter's ID in case the ballot is sent back. 

Credit: King County Elections
A sample ballot envelope showing the various barcodes and what they are used for during the voting process. October 2020.

The third barcode is one used for quality control for the elections print vendor. 

The fourth barcode is new and is the Intelligent Mail Barcode. It allows election officials to track ballots through the mail stream in both directions, similar to how shoppers can track an online package. Voters can also take advantage of this and track their ballot when they put it in a drop box or mail it in. 

Once your ballot is in the mail, you can track its progress online.

King County voters can track their ballot by visiting the King County Elections website

Voters can also go to Washington state's voter website to check the status of their ballot. 

King County Elections reported voters returned 195,763 ballots at drop boxes alone through Monday. In 2016, the department only received 10,659 ballots during the same time. 

Track election results and analysis with KING 5

On Tuesday, Nov. 3, watch NBC coverage of the 2020 election on KING 5 from 4-11 p.m. to follow national election results and analysis.

Tune in to western Washington election coverage from 8-11 p.m. on KONG and 11 p.m. to midnight on KING 5. Local coverage will also stream live on king5.com and the KING 5 app.