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Monday, November 08, 2004 - Page updated at 02:15 P.M.

Record number of provisional ballots issued during election

By Susan Gilmore
Seattle Times staff reporter

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The 2004 election: How we voted (PDF)
A record 31,700 voters turned in provisional ballots to the King County election office last week, according to elections officials.

That's almost double the number issued in the 2000 presidential election at 17,000. Of those ballots, 78 percent were counted.

That number includes ballots to be mailed to other counties and states, but does not include the number of provisional ballots expected to be received by King County from other counties in the next nine days.

Voters could use provisional ballots for several reasons:

— They didn't receive an absentee ballot; they voted in a precinct other than the one they were registered in.

— They were travelling and unable to go to their polling place.

— Elections officials couldn't find their names in the poll books.

— The voter moved and registration information was not updated.

For more than three decades Washington has allowed provisional voting and it's now national law under the Help America Vote Act.

In the primary election this year, King County issued 5,700 provisional ballots, and 90 percent were verified and counted, according to King County Elections director Dean Logan.

Provisional ballots will be researched during the 15-day canvassing period leading up to the election certification, scheduled Nov. 17. Once the voters' eligibility is determined the ballot is counted, but only for races they were qualified to vote on.
King County issued 646,537 absentee ballots this year, of which 554,000, or 86 percent have been returned. Officials expect to count about 50,000 absentees today and release the results at 4 p.m.

If a provisional-ballot voter wants to find out whether or not his or her vote was counted, the number on the ballot receipt needs to be matched with ballots that have been counted. The information will be posted on the King County Elections web site, or by phone at 206-296-VOTE.

Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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