What You Need To Know: Ballot-Counting Basics For Wash. State Voters
The campaigns are winding down. The ballot counting is about to begin. But in Washington state, we may not know the results of close races until later this week.
In Washington, an all vote-by-mail state, ballots don’t have to be in on Election Day; they just have to be postmarked or placed in a drop box by 8 p.m. That means valid ballots continue to arrive in the days after the election.
Also, Washington’s 39 counties will only report one set of returns on election night. The ballots that make it into that first count are the ones that arrived early enough that election workers could verify the voter’s signature and prep the ballot for the counting machine.
The general rule of thumb in Washington is election night results capture about half, maybe 60 percent of the ballots that will ultimately be tallied. Officials with Washington’s secretary of state’s office say early ballot returns suggest a lower-than-expected turnout for this midterm election.