King County election officials are using new vote scanning machines they say will result in quicker vote tallying. The county is the largest vote-by-mail county in the country. On election nights in the past, King County has often released minimal results because of the pace of processing its ballots.
The largest of the machines will be able tabulate up to 18,000 primary election ballots per hour, according to King County Election Supervisor Jerelyn Hampton. That's in contrast to the 2,000 per hour the old scanner could process.
King County Elections Director Julie Wise says the new system, which includes new software, will make it possible to better serve voters on election night.
"This is going to provide us with the opportunity to streamline our processes and be able to have more meaningful election results on election night for voters, for candidates, for campaigns, for media and for all of us," Wise said.
She says the new system will also be able to better handle wrinkled or damaged ballots.
King County Elections has also upgraded its machines for disabled voters. The new ones are meant to afford voters more privacy and access. Those ballots will now be printed, mailed and processed along with other voters' ballots.
King County Elections mailed out ballots for the August 1 primary on Wednesday. Election officials say they should arrive in mailboxes by Monday.