On Wednesday, June 15 King County Elections moved its largest piece of equipment — a Pitney Bowes machine — from its temporary home in Tukwila to its new (and former) location in Renton at 919 Southwest Grady Way.
The machine, which was put into use in 2009 only lasted about six or seven months in Renton before the county decided to move the elections office from Renton to Tukwila that same year following a risk of flooding from the Howard Hansen dam.
"We didn't expect to take it out," said Elections Director Sherril Huff,
Heavy rains spurred the decision to move the office during the first week of October 2009.
"There just was no guarantee," Huff said of of the building, which is located in the flood plain. The following winter, ironically, was unusually dry and the building never did flood, she said. But the county couldn't take the risk.
Each time the Pitney Bowes machine has moved — including its introduction to the Renton office, the October 2009 move to Tukwila and, finally, today's return to Renton — the hulking machine is broken down into 14 pieces and lifted or lowered by crane.
"It's dramatic because it has to go in the side of the building on the second story," Huff said.
Each piece ranges in weight from 400 to 1,500 pounds said Katie Streit, adding that the machine will be re-assembled by Pitney Bowes representatives.
The multi-purpose machine scans ballot signatures, sorts ballots into geographic districts, and essentially opens every ballot envelope received by the King County Elections office.
Although the building sat empty between the fall of 2009 and now, King County took advantage of the vacancy by redoing the HVAC system and repairing the roof.
The King County Elections office in Renton will re-open on June 20.
"As we prepare for the August primary, it's great to be back in our home facility with space that fully accommodates our state-of-the-art equipment and technology," said Huff in a news statement. "It also offers convenience for the public to visit and observe the election process. We hope to have lots of visitors stop in for a tour during our upcoming elections!"