A Last-Minute Guide to the August 3 Primary Election

Everything you need to know, procrastinators.

By Benjamin Cassidy July 30, 2021

a "vote" sign in a march of silent demonstrators

One of the many messages heard loud and clear at the silent march in 2020.

Summer doesn’t scream “election season”—especially this year, when many entertaining distractions have resurfaced after a seemingly endless parade of shutdown orders. But there is, in fact, a primary happening on August 3, and in Seattle, it’s a particularly important one: The city will narrow a crowded field of mayoral candidates to just two, not to mention winnowing a couple of city council contests and a county executive race.

You may already know this. King County Elections ballots were supposed to arrive in mailboxes by July 19, along with bulky information pamphlets. Though these guides answer some basic questions about voting and candidates, they aren’t edited or fact-checked; politician-speak, unfortunately, prevails. The pamphlets also bear some resemblance to newspaper inserts typically ticketed for recycling bins, so it’s easy to unwittingly chuck them.

With that in mind, we've got some answers to questions last-minute voters may be having right about now.

How do I register to vote?

It’s too late to register online or by mail for the primary, but you can still do so in person through August 3 at one of King County’s vote centers. In Seattle, that means the Lumen Field Event Center, but there are also locations in Bellevue, Federal Way, Kenmore, Kent, and Renton. Find hours and info about all of them here

How do I check my voter registration status in Washington?

Click here.

What’s the difference between the primary election and the general election?

In Washington’s primary system, the two candidates receiving the most votes for a particular office advance to the general election, where one will ultimately be declared the winner. The deadline for voting in the general election this year is November 2.

Do I have to vote in the primary to vote in the general election this November?


Is it too late to vote by mail?

No, but King County Elections recommends mailing a ballot by the Friday before Election Day to ensure it’s postmarked by August 3. So this probably isn’t your best option at this point.

Where can I find ballot drop boxes, then?

They’re all over the place, and they’re open 24-7. Here’s an up-to-date list and map of drop box locations. If you need assistance with your ballot, staff at those aforementioned vote centers are trained to help.

When’s the absolute last minute I can submit my ballot?

You really are a procrastinator. Drop boxes and vote centers close at 8pm sharp on August 3, but keep in mind there may be lines. Convince yourself it’s 7pm and thank us later.

All right, I have my voting plan worked out. Where can I find more information about the people and measures on my King County ballot?

We have a running list of introductions to Seattle’s many mayoral candidates, but if you want to get wonkier, Crosscut’s voter-driven Q&A, The Seattle Times’s mayoral race breakdown, KUOW's Seattle-focused coverage, and The Stranger’s progressive guide should more than suffice.

If you want to dig into campaign finances, check out Seattle’s Ethics and Elections Commission site.

And if you want to get the scoop on races happening in suburbia, visit news sources serving Burien, Des Moines, Kent, Mercer Island, Renton, and SeaTac.

I don’t want to read all of that! Just tell me who and what should get my vote.

Sorry, we don’t do endorsements. But if you want to follow someone's lead, here's a quick roundup of local media endorsements in prominent Seattle-centric contests.

For King County executive

For Seattle mayor

For Seattle City Council Position No. 8

For Seattle City Council Position No. 9

For Seattle city attorney

Proposition No. 1 (Regular Property Tax Levy for Children, Youth, Families, and Communities)

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