Unclear Disclaimer in Secretary of State’s Website Leads to Confusion About Downloadable Ballots

Despite rumors on alt-right social media, this design flaw does not present a serious risk to the integrity of Washington’s election results

For Immediate Release | October 19, 2020

SEATTLE — Right-wing media outlets have irresponsibly reported false claims from anonymous social media users on the alt-right platform 4chan that they could “cancel” voters’ ballots in Washington state. This is simply not true, as County Election Offices are required to process the original ballot regardless of any subsequent illegitimate ballot being sent according to WAC 434-250-080. Once a ballot has been accepted, no other ballot can be accepted or printed for that voter. These measures will ensure that signed, sealed ballots with signatures that match voters’ records on file with their county elections auditor’s office will be counted regardless of any malfeasance from bad actors as described by conspiracy theorists on 4chan.

The source of this misinformation is misleading language on the VoteWA website claiming that a voter’s ballot will be “canceled” if a replacement ballot is downloaded. In fact, simply downloading a replacement ballot does not cancel or otherwise invalidate a properly signed, sealed, and signature-matched ballot.

Each county auditor’s office has been made aware of this issue and the election integrity measures in place to keep our ballots safe and secure will keep this design flaw from affecting actual votes. The only consequences of this design flaw could be increased confusion for voters and workload increases for already-burdened county auditors resulting in a potential delay in the reporting of accurate and complete results of the election, which Washingtonians deserve to know as soon as possible.

“Voters in Washington state should know one thing: despite this confusing and misleading information on the VoteWA website, there is no danger to your vote being counted,” said Tina Podlodowski, Chair of the Washington State Democratic Party. “We are monitoring the situation closely, and any voter who is concerned about this issue — or has any other questions about voting — can call our voter protection hotline at 206-309-VOTE.”