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Area celebrities and King County elections departments partner to help voters 'Be Informed'

What do celebrities like Rick Steves have in common with voters?  The importance of   reading and following instructions, whether it’s traveling around the world or filling out one’s ballot. And, what do the Seattle Storm women’s basketball players have in common with voters? They move around a lot – just like voters, but voters need to let their elections’ office know about changes so the ballot will go to the right place.

Elections departments from four counties (King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap) as well as the Office of the Secretary of State are partnering with local celebrities to connect with voters and help educate them about the process of voting.  The celebrities, who are donating their time, will begin appearing in ads on radio, TV and online to remind voters to sign their return ballot envelopes, get their ballots back on time, and other important tips that help ensure more ballots can be processed and election costs are reduced.

“Using celebrities to help deliver our message is a strategy that we think will help us connect with more voters,” said Sherril Huff, King County Elections Director. “Familiar themes take on a new energy when admired local celebrities are joining in on the ‘let’s get this right and make it count’ message. We are thrilled that our partners and local celebrities are making this contribution!”

Each year, thousands of ballots arrive after the Election Day voting deadline or without signatures.  Ballots that arrive too late cannot be opened and counted. Other ballots that are missing signatures, by law, can’t be processed until and unless elections officials can connect with voters and get their signatures in time. All four counties want to reduce these numbers and increase efficiency to improve their bottom line. Combining efforts makes sense.

“The upcoming Primary Election and this fall’s General Election include many important races and issues,” said Secretary of State Sam Reed, Washington’s chief elections officer. “This educational campaign will help better prepare voters before they fill out their ballot, including those voters who will vote in the old 1st Congressional District special election and the election for the new 1st Congressional District.”

One of the first celebrities to join the effort was Tom Douglas, an award-winning chef who operates several popular restaurants in the Seattle area. According to Douglas, “I’m happy to pitch in to help – if my voice in a message helps more votes get counted and saves some of our taxpayer dollars for other things, we all win!”

In addition to Douglas, additional celebrities will be featured including Rick Steves, players from the Seattle Storm, popular TV and radio personalities and others who will join the campaign as it gets closer to the general election in November.

The four counties have banded together as they now all have voting by mail in common, are  subject to the same changes in election laws, and all experience the same problems with voters who do not follow instructions.

This education program is being funded by the four different county elections offices in addition to support from the Office of the Secretary of State with the explicit goal of educating the public on the two Congressional races some voters will find on their ballots.

The completed celebrity TV ads, a selection of radio ads, and banner ads can be seen at the King County Web site listed below:  http://kingcounty.gov/elections/news/psa/2012

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