Washington’s Primary Is Today and Your Candidate Dropped Out. Now What?

Woe is you.

By Nicole Martinson March 9, 2020

You've only got one more day to take an "I voted!" selfie.

Plenty of late-voting Seattleites will emerge from their work-from-home bubbles to make their votes count in Washington’s presidential primary by Tuesday, March 10 at 8pm. Washingtonians are expected to vote in record numbers this year, and about a third of registered voters have returned their ballots already.

But if you’re among those Democrats who voted early this year, you may have cast your ballot for a candidate that has since dropped out (like Elizabeth Warren, or Mike Bloomberg, both of whom fared better in statewide polling than current leader Joe Biden until early last week). Just three Democratic candidates remain in the race out of the 13 on the ballot.

And we've got bad news: There’s no going back and recasting your vote. If you still have your ballot with you, go ahead and make a change by unsealing your envelope, penning a line through your original choice (both the bubble and the name), and filling in your new choice. Finish the reseal with a piece of tape.

After the Washington Secretary of State tweeted recommendations from the Washington Department of Health, many voters have opted to use tape over licking the envelope in the first place, because of COVID-19 concerns. Although King County Elections has mandated gloves for ballot processing staff, communications officer Halei Watkins said that, according to the King County Department of Public Health, there’s nothing that shows COVID-19 transfers through mail. “Voters don’t need to worry about that on their end,” Watkins said.

After sealing, but before heading out to your nearest voting center or drop box (it's too late to mail your ballot in and ensure it arrives on time), double check the vital finishing touch: Each ballot must have a designated party selection. If you don't select either Democratic or Republican party, and vote accordingly, your ballot will not be counted. 

Watkins said King County has received roughly 22,000 ballots without either party box marked that are now “challenged.” This means that King County Elections will send out roughly 22,000 letters requesting those voters fill out another form, actually check their party box, and resubmit their vote by March 19. 

Another way ballots are often rejected is if marks are made on candidates from both parties. A snarky comment on the write-in line under the candidates list for the opposing party may seem tempting, but it could get your ballot in hot water. “Just stick to the instructions of checking a box and filling in one oval on the correct side of the ballot, and you're good to go,” Watkins said.

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