The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Washington Secretary of State calls for improvement in ballot delivery

Washington experiences multiple irregularities in ballot mailing and postal boxes
Only+16%25+of+eligible+voters+in+Washington+aged+18-24+actually+voted+in+this+years+elections
BECCA WALKER
Only 16% of eligible voters in Washington aged 18-24 actually voted in this year’s elections

This year’s November election was marked with Fentanyl found in ballots, out of service postal boxes and in general a very low voter turnout for those aged 18-24 in Washington.

“It has been quite a year for unexpected events during elections,” Derrick Nunally, deputy director of external affairs for the Secretary of State’s Office said

Nunnally said right off the bat in the August Primary there was trouble, with envelopes full of suspicious substances turning up in King County. As the November election came, six county election offices in Washington also got envelopes with letters saying not to conduct elections and a number of them contained dangerous substances like Fentanyl which can be quite deadly in even small doses.

Election offices reacted quickly distributing gloves and other protection equipment to protect workers, he said. There also were discussions running about getting Narcan in the offices in case an overdose resulted from one of the letters.

After the election itself was conducted, there was then some confusion with the U.S. Postal Service which did not adequately mark mail drop boxes that were out of service before the election, Nunnally said.

Secretary of State Steve Hobbs released a letter on Nov. 16 calling for the U.S Postal Service to do more about out-of-service election drop boxes which may confuse voters after at least 124 ballots were found in these boxes. This led to these ballots being counted late.

Nunally said this was a huge problem as voters needed to trust that when they mailed a ballot it would be counted.

“We go to great lengths to assure voters that a mailed ballot is a secure ballot.” Nunally said.

Whitman County Auditor Sandy Jamison said this issue did not affect Whitman County at this time.

The U.S. Postal Service sent a reply on Nov. 21 outlining the actions they were taking to fix the issues Secretary Hobbs outlined. Hobbs again sent another letter that day expressing gratitude for the postal services collaboration and prompt reply but outlined he wanted to get a better confirmation the issue was fixed given two other WA counties had recently reported also finding ballots in out-of-service boxes. 

As the results of the election have now been certified, data about voter turnout has also come to light. Based on the data, only 16% of young people aged 18-24 voted.

“84% of registered voters aged 18-24 did not return their ballots,” Nunally said. “There is a real opportunity to make your voice heard on issues that will shape the long-term future of the region if you start participating young,” Nunally said.

Nunally said Washington has far more opportunities than others for informed voting with our election pamphlets that come out and easy mail voting. All WSU students should take advantage of these opportunities that people in other states do not always have.

Jamison said a lot of young people did not vote and that the ballot drop box by the WSU Chinook was underutilized. She strongly encouraged students to cast their votes and make their voices heard. 

Using official ballot drop boxes was very secure and saved the state money on postage, she said. On the WSU campus, we have one located by the CUB and Chinook that anyone can drop their ballot in.

Jamison’s office also helps run the Hub voting in the Cubs Senior Ballroom. This is an opportunity for students to cast their ballot with the help of volunteers and election officials answering any questions they may have, she said.

To register to vote, Washington residents can go to votewa.gov. Those that are out of state can register at vote.gov. Students can change their voter address as well if they are already registered but have recently moved.

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About the Contributor
BECCA WALKER, Evergreen Photographer
Becca Walker is a photographer for the Daily Evergreen. Becca is a sophomore elementary education major from Olympia, Washington. Becca started working for the Evergreen in fall 2021 as a photographer.