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Lambert calls for vote center No polls for Valley?

When King County switches to all-vote-by-mail elections next year, East King County will not host a site for accessible voting machines for those with disabilities to vote in person.

The Metropolitan King County Council recently voted to establish three regional voting centers for King County, in addition to 37 ballot drop box locations distributed around the county, but voted against adding a fourth location in East King County.

The regional voting centers will be located at Bellevue City Hall, Union Station in Seattle, and the Elections Division office in Renton.

“That is a reduction in the original plan to provide nine regional voting centers — one in each Council district,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who represents northeast King County.

She introduced an amendment to add one more regional voting center in a centralized location in Snoqualmie to serve east and south King County residents. The extra site in Snoqualmie would have given ready access to voters in the I-90, Highway 18, Highway 202 and Highway 203 corridors.

“All three regional voting centers are located close to the Seattle urban area, and that is too far to expect disabled voters to go from Skykomish or Snoqualmie,” Lambert said. “Some of the voters in these areas have never voted by mail and want to be able to continue voting in person. If we are going to make our elections accessible, we should do it in a meaningful manner that serves King County’s rural areas as well as the urban core.”

The addition of another regional voting center would have cost about $50,000. It was voted down.

“I understand the need to save money” due to a budget crisis, Lambert said. “But if the county is serious about cutting back unnecessary services, it should fund only the one regional voting center that is required by law, which would save $100,000. The county could save hundreds of thousands of dollars more in staffing and leasing costs by delaying the switch to vote-by-mail next year.”

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