Secretary of State addresses election misinformation after signs appear near drop boxes

SEATTLE — State officials held a roundtable discussion Thursday morning to discuss what they say are likely false narratives surrounding the 2022 elections in Washington.

Officials from the Secretary of State Elections Division, the University of Washington Center for an Informed Public and Secretary of State Steve Hobbs met in South Lake Union.

Hobbs emphasized the importance of knowing how elections work so the public doesn’t fall prey to misinformation.

The Center for an Informed Public is part of the election integrity partnership, which tracks rumors, misinformation and threats.

During the 2020 election the center tracked 400 incidents.

Earlier this week, KIRO 7 reported that strange signs were placed at nearly a dozen ballot drop-box locations around the Ballard area.

The signs warned voters the drop box was under surveillance.

Voter intimidation is illegal locally and federally.

“It’s very disheartening and sad that there’s groups out there surveilling these drop boxes out there. It’s a little intimidating. Nobody wants to be surveilled, especially from an unknown group that they are used to or not. I mean, in a way this could be voter suppression,” Hobbs said.

King County director of elections, Julie Wise, called for the signs to be removed.

Elections officials said they believe the signs were a targeted effort by party-affiliated activists to intimidate and discourage voters from using secure ballot drop boxes.

Wise said she and her team are passing along any information about the signs to the King County Sheriff’s Office for further investigation.