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Record level of interest from public in observing elections, King County Elections director says

Ahead of the August Primary, a standard pre-election procedure is receiving more attention than usual.

RENTON, Wash. — Ahead of the August Primary, a standard pre-election procedure is receiving more attention than usual. 

On Tuesday, King County Elections tested their system to make sure they are ready to go. The process, open to the public, brought out about a dozen people who raised questions about the integrity of the voting system. The Elections Office received reports of "suspicious and intimidating signs" near drop boxes that warned they were under surveillance.

Julie Wise, the director of King County Elections, said the system is solid, and Tuesday’s testing is one part of multiple rounds of accuracy tests ahead of the election.

"Typically, we haven't seen this level of excitement, this level of questions and excitement at a logic and accuracy test,” said Wise.

The logic and accuracy check is the official test of ballot counting and processing equipment, a pre-election procedure open to the public. What typically takes 20 minutes lasted three times as long on Tuesday as the county's ballot processing manager was flooded with questions from people raising their doubts about the system.

"What we saw today was some folks who have not participated in those observer trainings and who are not familiar to the King County Elections office,” said Wise.

Wise is referring to two-hour trainings for volunteers who want to observe at elections headquarters and provide an objective review of the vote counting process.

"We believe observers are critical to democracy,” Wise said. "Unfortunately, what we are seeing is, I think, a small subset of people that really distrust government."

Wise said that is why providing public access to testing is important for transparency. Her office is seeing a record level of interest from people wanting to volunteer to be an observer. Another option available to the public is the live election cam to see how the ballots are processed.


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