Editorial: Counting slow in a speedy world

In a world that goes faster every day, it’s oddly refreshing that the counting of votes is slower than ever — at least something is refusing to speed up to meet the demands of an impatient society.

In fact, vote counting is going in reverse — a process even slower than it was 20 years ago. Elections results as late as the early ‘80s were almost always known before the auditor went to bed. Absentee ballots were scarce and used mainly by snowbirds and the infirm. The vast majority of votes were dropped into a ballot box which was driven to the courthouse to be counted that very night.

The advent of massive absentee voting ended all that. This state allows absentees to be postmarked as late as election day, meaning votes can flood in days after the election. The addition of plentiful provisional ballots this year makes matters even slower. It’s rather comic that two weeks after the election, people who forgot to sign their provisional ballots are being hunted down by political parties desperate for every vote they can turn up.

Grumblings from Olympia suggest that a effort may be made this year to make this state conform to others, and required that absentee ballots arrive by election day. This would speed things up, but why bother? It’s kind of fun to watch the vote count on a daily basis -- we may not know who’s governor until the last vote is tallied. Plus, imagine the suspense if the presidential election ever hinges on the outcome in Washington. We’ll forever be known as the slowest state in the union which, all things considered, isn’t a bad moniker to be stuck with in the age of speed.

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