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Whatcom Election Observer Program

Published on 11/13/2022
The following letter, authored by League member Kit Muehlman, appeared in the Cascadia Daily News on November 2. 
 
To anyone worried about the integrity of our elections, I suggest you see for yourself.  In Washington, we have opportunities to observe each election, and see for ourselves the security in the collecting and counting of our ballots.  
 
In October, 2022, I attended the Logic and Accuracy tests at the Auditor’s office, along with two other non-partisan observers, and five observers from the Washington Secretary of State’s office. Amy Grasher, elections supervisor, fed a pre-marked test deck of ballots from 173 precincts into the Clear Ballot machine. The machine almost instantly counted the ballots and imprinted each with a number. Then Amy put the ballots into a tamper evident bag. The machines are certified like this before each and every election.
 
The official observer program is dictated by state law, and anyone can watch the steps in our upcoming election. Our Whatcom County Auditor, Diana Bradrick, encourages people to observe elections, and to ask questions, so that we understand how secure the procedure is. There are two ways to observe:
  • Appearing in person October 19-November 28, between 8 and 4:30 pm, M-F
  • From home watching the five live-stream webcams 24 hours a day.
On the dates after election day, you can watch the hand count and the risk limiting audits that check the results for accuracy.

Beforehand, go to the Whatcom Auditor’s website, read the online Observer Guide, and watch the Observer Training Video. You’ll see how the signature on every envelope, without exception, is verified before the ballot goes to the next step.

When I first took the election observer training, I was impressed with the painstaking procedures they use for accuracy and transparency. As an observer on the training video noted, “It’s too bad everybody doesn’t have to watch it, before they make their first complaint.”