Editorial: Board defends voters’ rights

  • Wednesday, January 17, 2007 8:00pm
  • Opinion

Island County Canvassing Board members stood up for the voters last week when they complained about new state rules that tie their hands at vote-counting time.

Prosecutor Greg Banks, Commissioner Mac McDowell and Auditor Suzanne Sinclair, in their various comments in their final meeting dealing with the November election, all expressed concern that actual votes may not be counted if the state rules are strictly followed.

Banks made a particularly good point in saying that the Canvassing Board consists of elected officials. We know these people, more than half of us voted for them, and we all trust them to make the right call when a vote might be in doubt.

Mail ballots, which the vast majority of voters receive, carry a rectangular box next to each candidate’s name, and the voter is to mark the box of the preferred candidate. The state now requires a uniform approach to box marking, which is nonsensical. Any way the voter marks the box should be considered a vote, whether it’s an X, a check or some other mark. Throwing out votes because they don’t fit a consistent pattern is absurd.

The Canvassing Board made a wise recommendation that the ballot be redesigned to invite a more uniform way of voting. As McDowell said, oval spaces would likely be filled out in the manner the state prefers. Rectangular boxes are open to more creative ways of voting. In this way, voting the “correct” way is encouraged, but not coerced.

Due to the state’s new rules, many votes were tragically thrown out statewide in the November election simply because the voter did not follow the rules. State regulators should remember that literacy tests at the polls were outlawed years ago. You don’t have to know how to read the rules to vote, and you don’t have to understand what you read to vote. So don’t throw out votes just because someone doesn’t know the rules, or chooses to ignore the rules.

Let the Canvassing Board decide which votes are valid. These panels of local elected officials are an essential check against the powers of big government. We can’t leave voter decisions up to some computer or some obscure panel in Olympia.

More in Opinion

Smaller, safer nuclear reactors in works for Hanford reservation

It isn’t often we hear good news from the Hanford, but the… Continue reading

Sound Off: Workshop a chance to learn about racist societal structures

As our nation struggles with current and past racial injustices, it is… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Deer Lagoon Grange’s membership should be open to all

The Deer Lagoon Grange has become an unlikely focal point in the… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Seek public input, avoid consultants in spending stimulus money

It appears that government officials on Whidbey will have a lot of… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Central Whidbey location is right for homeless shelter

Since 2017, the Haven has offered a warm, safe place to sleep… Continue reading

Sound Off: Working to strengthen WhidbeyHealth’s financial position

The declaration of a global pandemic was made just over a year… Continue reading

From the Publisher: Times are changing, and so is our mode of newspaper delivery

When you’re nearly 130 years old, you have to adapt to the… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Those fighting for racial equality should focus on county government

It’s a little ironic, but perhaps not surprising, that so much of… Continue reading

Sound Off: State must help with fallout from ‘extraordinary opinion’

On Feb. 25, the Washington Supreme Court issued an extraordinary opinion with… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Deer and loathing in Coupeville: Some possible solutions

To many Coupeville residents, the resident black-tail deer are no longer the… Continue reading

Rockin’ A Hard Place | The Rock got great help to take care of itself when needed most

We Rock dwellers enjoy the distance we have from America. It takes… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Letters to schools misguided but should spur reflection

Both the Oak Harbor and the South Whidbey School districts were recently… Continue reading