Editor’s note: Today’s editorials originally appeared in The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin and The Columbian. Editorial content from other publications and authors is provided to give readers a sampling of regional and national opinion and does not necessarily reflect positions endorsed by the Editorial Board of The Daily News.
The 18-day voting period for the Aug. 6 Primary Election starts on Friday. In addition, Washington state is rolling out — and essentially testing — a new $9.5 million statewide elections system known as VoteWa.
Like many things involving technology, it’s wonderful — when it works.
In the days leading up to the Primary Election, some of the state’s 39 county auditors expressed concerns about the launch of VoteWa, which connects through a software upgrade all county election operations to a single database that allow them to share voter information in real time.
When functioning properly, according to reporting by Everett Herald political writer Jerry Cornfield, “election workers in Everett, Spokane and Yakima should to be able to sign on and, at the same moment, know if there is a new registered voter in Tacoma or if a current voter moved to a new address in Zillah.”
This information is critical because Washington state now has a same-day voter registration law kicks in this election. This system that is supposed to alert election workers if this new voter is registered elsewhere.
Yet, Cornfield reports that county auditors are now finding glitches in the system in the days leading up to the Primary.
“This project is not ready for our voters. It really isn’t,” King County Auditor Julie Wise told members of the Senate state government committee. “We need to go through a mock election. We need to test the system.”
But county auditors, as a whole, said Washingtonians should not overly concerned because they’re confident final results will be 100 percent accurate.
The statewide voter system has been remarkably efficient and accurate over the years. Current Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican, has done an outstanding job overseeing the election system and adding necessary safeguards and innovations. This follows the same pattern as her two predecessors, Sam Reed and Ralph Munro, also Republicans.
Wyman made the final call to move forward with the new software for this election, and we have confidence in her decision. Her reasoning is sound.
Wyman said she believes VoteWa is far more secure against potential cyber attacks than the legacy county systems.
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In addition, testing the system in an off-year primary when turnout is traditionally low makes more sense than next year’s highly anticipated General Election, where all statewide offices as well as the presidency will be on the ballot.
Still, as we have said over and over, every election regardless of the offices on the ballot, is important.
Each county and the state has got to get this absolutely right. The fact that auditors across the state are concerned means extra care will be taken to ensure the final tally is correct.
Cheers & Jeers
Cheers: To America’s best midsized public transit system. In case you missed the news, that’s our very own C-Tran, which received the honor from the American Public Transit Association.
Frequent C-Tran riders know about the friendly drivers, the clean and comfortable buses and the reliable schedules. The association also lauded the transit agency for operations, maintenance, safety, security, financial management, sustainability, workforce development and providing opportunities for advancement for minorities and women.
That’s a lot for a community to be proud of. If you haven’t been on the bus in a while, try a C-Tran ride to the fair, to a concert at Sunlight Supply Amphitheater, or spend a $1.80 and take a trip around town.
Jeers: To a recent plague of motorcycle accidents. Summer weather always seems to bring more motorcycle accidents, but this year the tendency toward crashes has been hot even when the weather is not. A motorcyclist was killed on June 30, and two others were seriously injured in separate incidents last weekend.
We’re not trying to cast blame here: We’ve all seen dangerous bikers roar past us on the freeway, and we’ve also heard about innocent bikers struck by inattentive drivers of cars and trucks. Let’s just all resolve to try to watch out for each other as the heart of the summer approaches.
Jeers: To campaigning for the 2020 federal election in July 2019. More than 20 Democrats are holding presidential debates. President Donald Trump is making campaign speeches. Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler is planning a barbecue fundraiser. Challenger Carolyn Long is holding multiple rallies.
Meanwhile voters need to pay attention to some local races that are arguably more important than federal politics. Local school board candidates need to be selected, and city council members are on the ballot. There are votes to be taken on emergency medical services funding, possibly in your own neighborhood. Look, we realize that in today’s overly political climate, the fundraising and hullaballoo needs to get started early. But don’t let the fights over the White House and Congress overshadow the votes that shape our daily lives.
Cheers: To studying literature in a canoe. Washington State University Vancouver students taking a Native American literature class are also taking to local waterways. Associate Professor Desiree Hellegers received a $28,000 Lewis E. and Stella G. Buchanan fellowship to bring the class onto the water, where they can learn from guest speakers like Tony Johnson, chairman of the Chinook Indian Nation. From a 36-foot traditional canoe, students got a chance to learn about our region’s first people from what would have been their everyday perspective. If this sounds attractive, the grant runs for two years.