SEATTLE – A record of absentee-ballot mailings shows that King County election officials sent them to military personnel by a federal deadline required for last year’s general election.
Faced with a possible federal lawsuit, election officials needed to have mailed the ballots to soldiers, sailors and airmen stationed overseas by Oct. 8.
Local commentators on Web logs and radio talk shows this week suggested the county lied about sending the ballots on time, based on reports that King County Elections’ bulk-mailing permit wasn’t used between Oct. 2 and 13.
Officials said the permit wouldn’t have been used to send the ballots because a federal permit allows mail to be sent postage-free.
King County officials on Wednesday released a log of mailings that showed 1,853 ballots were delivered to the International Station post office in Seattle on Oct. 7, the day state Elections Director Nick Handy warned county election officials statewide that the U.S. Department of Justice had threatened to sue if the deadline was missed.
Overseas military ballots also went to a mailing contractor in Snohomish County later that day and on the morning of Oct. 8. And the last of the 3,055 ballots were mailed Oct. 8, said Bill Huennekens, King County elections superintendent.
An additional 5,478 ballots were mailed to armed forces members in the United States on Oct. 12. More than 570,000 absentee ballots went to other voters the next day, according to the county log.
Other counties, like Pierce County, also were hard-pressed to meet the federal deadline.
Huennekens said because the general election so closely follows the September primary, counties faced difficult time constraints on ballot preparations.
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