Commentary: Much effort goes into security of your ballot

By Carolyn Weikel

Tuesday, Nov. 8 is Election Day and voting is well underway in Snohomish County.

One person, one vote is one of the great principles upon which this country was founded, yet recently, many disparaging remarks have been made about the integrity of the elections process. As a nationally certified elections official and the person ultimately responsible for the fair, accurate and transparent administration of elections in Snohomish County, I would like to provide some facts and clarity regarding the security and integrity of the elections process and why it is so important to participate.

Election integrity is of paramount importance to all elections officials. Much time and energy goes into preparing for each election and in counting the vote. I am confident every registered voter will receive a ballot, all voted ballots returned to the Auditor’s Office will be processed according to our procedures and security protocols, and the county results will accurately reflect the choices of our voters.

Our commitment to elections integrity shapes the facility, systems and procedures we have in place and the transparency of our operation. Our ballot processing center is located in Mukilteo and each ballot processing step is observable to official election observers, members of the general public and the media. Our building is secured with a state-of-the-art alarm system. Ballots are secured in locked and alarmed cages requiring at least two people to be present to gain access. Our employees have been thoroughly screened and are properly trained to perform their assignments. And our tabulation system is not connected to the internet; it is a standalone system.

As a voter you play a part in the integrity of the election system as well. When the ballot arrives in the mail, please read and follow the ballot instructions to help ensure we can process ballots without delay. In order for a ballot to be counted, the signature on the outside of the envelope must match the signature we have on the voter registration file; a ballot is not counted unless it matches the signature we have on file. If a signature does not match, the voter will receive a letter and a phone call from our elections staff asking for additional verification documentation so the ballot can be processed. Please return our calls and answer our letters so every ballot we receive can be processed. You can also use the ballot look-up tool on our website (www.snoco.org/elections) to confirm your ballot has been received and is being processed.

I know you might be tired of the commercials, the direct mail pieces you receive in your mailbox and of the fundraising phone calls — I get it — but do not let your campaign fatigue translate into inaction. Your vote helps determine the future for our local communities, our state and our nation.

It is our duty as Americans to vote. Free and fair elections are the foundation of our democracy, and when we exercise our right to vote, we are upholding that foundation. Voting is a vitally important civic act where citizens from all walks of life can participate equally — regardless of race, color, socioeconomic status, gender, sex, religion, ZIP code or political persuasion.

Do not sit on the sidelines this election. Participate in democracy by returning your completed ballot by Nov. 8.

Carolyn Weikel is the Snohomish County auditor.

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