Island County auditor confronts criticism over ballot retrieval times

County Auditor Sheilah Crider defended her elections staff Monday in response to criticism about ballot collection during elections.

Crider said she was responding to ongoing criticism from residents like Carol Wilkerson who have accused the auditor’s office of not picking up ballots in a timely manner in remote areas.

The criticisms treated her staff “disrespectfully,” Crider said.

Wilkerson has complained that ballots are being left in ballot boxes for up to a week and that pickup times should be posted on ballot boxes.

“There are some issues that need to be addressed,” said Wilkerson, who regularly attends board meetings via video conferencing from Camano Island. “The constituents are not getting what they are supposed to.”

Crider gave a statement at the board’s regular Monday meeting, saying that she wanted to address criticism from both the public and Commissioner Helen Price Johnson, who commented on the issue during last week’s regular meeting.

“I just want an assurance that all the constituents are being treated equally,” Price Johnson said.

Crider said all ballots are picked up three times per week and are processed the same day at the elections office.

In addition, using ballot boxes as a “bulletin board” to post pickup times is “prohibited” according to state and federal law, Crider said.

“Your statements were troubling,” Crider said. “They could not be further from the truth. In the future if you make statements about the auditor, don’t include my staff.”

Price Johnson said she simply wanted to make sure the auditor was responding to resident concerns and that the elections staff does “an admirable job.”

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