‘A discouraging tactic’: Signs near King County ballot drop boxes raise concerns among voters

KING COUNTY, Wash. — While primary voting is well underway, voters in a Ballard neighborhood noticed something new when dropping off their ballots.

Over the weekend, some voters noticed signs that started to pop up around a dozen ballot boxes in King County.

The signs read in red letters: “This ballot dropbox is under surveillance.”

Underneath the red text, there was text that cited a state code: “Accepting compensation for harvesting or depositing ballots may be a violation of Federal Law.” And at the bottom, a QR code — a small, digitally encoded pattern of squares and dots designed to be read by a smartphone scanner — to report suspicious activity.

When the QR code is scanned, it takes you to an election incident reporting form on the King County Republican Party’s website.

The party said it was unaware of the signs and had no idea.

“I’m like, who’s trying to stop people from voting,” voter Linda Rosenwood said.

“First you tell them they’re under surveillance, then they might be breaking the law and they then say, you know, report suspicious activity,” Rosenwood said. “It’s just the way they’re worded, the big red letters. I just thought it was, again, a discouraging tactic.”

King County Elections told KIRO 7 that they are aware of the signs and have flagged the issue for legal review by their attorneys in the prosecuting attorney’s office, saying in part: “Once we hear back on the legal perspective, we’ll be able to determine next steps.”

However, the King County Republican Party said it’s already one step ahead.

In a statement, the KCGOP chairman Matthew Patrick Thomas told KIRO 7 that the party had no idea, saying the signs were created by a “...self-appointed committee, which calls itself the KCGOP Election Integrity Committee has acted outside of its authority and without the express knowledge, permission, or consent of the King County Republican Party.”

“Effective immediately the KCGOP officially dissolves this committee,” Thomas continued. “Accordingly, the KCGOP looks forward to fully cooperating with the King County Elections.”

KCGOP also provided KIRO 7 with a copy of a cease and desist letter sent to that committee, requesting that all signs be picked up.

It was a sentiment echoed by voter Rosenwood.

“Well, I wish they would take them down,” she said.

While many people might have seen the signs, King County Elections is reminding voters that the drop boxes are a secure way to vote and its teams are emptying the boxes daily to ensure every vote is processed and counted.

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