EVERETT JULY 10: Snohomish County opened its new Elections Center yesterday on the Snohomish County Campus, with an observatory-style design. The new Elections Center will function as the central location for all ballot processing and counting operations for upcoming elections.

(Left to right) County Prosecutor Jason Cummings, County Executive Dave Somers, Auditor Garth Fell, councilmember Sam Low and President-elect of the League of Women Voters. Taken by Mikayla Finnerty, July 9, 2024.

For the past two Presidental elections, Snohomish County Auditor Garth Fell said that the county would lease buildings off campus by Paine Field to accommodate rising election-related demands. This would increase costs and make the election process less efficient and accessible according to the press release.

“The County designed the facility to efficiently meet production needs this Presidential year and beyond; to improve security of ballots and staff; and to enhance observation opportunities for the public and transparency of the process,” a press release from Snohomish County read.

The new space is located on the third floor of the Admin West Building on the Snohomish County Campus. This new space is 17,000 square feet dedicated to the processing of ballots, as well as an observer loop that allows members of the public to monitor all aspects of the ballot journey.

Elections Center wall of “Journey of the Ballot”. Viewers can see each step of the entire ballot processing. July 9, 2024. Taken by Mikayla Finnerty.

The new Elections Center was approximately $8.6 million and was funded by federal grants and several years of money set aside for elections-related capital improvements. Last year the Snohomish Council approved the remodel of the Elections Center.

King County has a similar observer type of location for its ballot process according to Fell.

“Our democracy depends on accurate and transparent election systems, and Snohomish County has an excellent track record of fulfilling its responsibilities. The Elections Center will ensure those at the frontline of democracy, our elections workers, have an efficient and safe space to count our votes this year, and voters can continue to have confidence in the results of elections,” said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers.

Roughly 500,000 ballots will be sent out this month for Snohomish County, with an estimated 45% of voters returning ballots for the August Primary according to Fell. With the new and improved Elections Center, Snohomish County is hoping for more participation from residents in the voting process. An estimated 80% of ballots are expected to be returned for the general election in November. 

Everett Post writer Ted Buehner has worked on the Snohomish County Elections Office seasonal team since the 2020 Presidential Election. He wrote an inside account of what it was like to prep ballots, himself prepping 17,400 ballots or 5.5 percent of the total ballots returned in the last Presidential Election. Snohomish County has also created an informational video of the ballot journey.

Fell will be holding informational sessions about the election process in September and October across various libraries in the county. For more information on where to learn more, see here: snoco.org/elections. 

A Spanish voter pamphlet will be available on the auditor’s website and office after general pamphlets are sent out July 18.

For more information regarding the Elections process in Snohomish County see here. Ballots are due August 6.

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