Tim White's Guest Editorial from the March 28, 2007 Sounder (Orcas Island)
Islanders, some of your neighbors are pressing the County hard to restore your secret ballot by banishing your assigned ballot’s Personal Barcode linked to your name.
County officials have been so cut out of the loop on this one, they actually recommended we take it to Court. Not our first choice, but our only choice.
We’ve just returned from Olympia, and seems the Capitol dome itself is eyeing our Secret Ballot Test Case.
Our county’s 2005 Primary was the first binding election in the nation using "Mail-in Ballot Tracker," the free-of-charge software that tracks you and your voted ballot right through the counter. On election day VoteHere, Ballot Tracker’s cryptic privately held creator, declared the "pilot" a "resounding success." Yet the only evaluation of the uncertified, untested paperless Ballot Tracker not written by VoteHere is our County Election officials’ four-page product endorsement published under VoteHere’s and San Juan County’s official logos on the company’s Customers page (votehere.net/customercasestudy_sanjuan.php).
VoteHere and Auditor Stephens (retired and relocated this year) struck a deal to deploy Ballot Tracker for its inaugural use in our lively 2005 County Commissioner contest between Bob Myhr and Jamie Stephens to fill Rhea Miller’s resigned seat. When I typed my name into Ballot Tracker’s lookup page on the SJC Elections website, there was my "Ballot Received" timestamp. After the election was Certified I learned from my co-plaintiff, Allan, that his lookup displayed an additional timestamp, "Ballot Counted." We showed County officials dozens of anomalies. Ten days after Certification the lookup page suddenly displayed new back-dated "Ballot Counted" time-stamps.
Did VoteHere, the single biggest lobbyist writing the $3B Help America Vote Act (HAVA), direct tax moneys their direction? Why did SJC Elections slip this historic policy reversal through their backdoor keyhole without consideration by citizens, our electeds Prosecutor, Commissioners, Councilors and Canvassing Board?
At the State level, how did VoteHere’s Chairman of the Board Ralph Munro secure last April’s $1.5m backdoor sole-source, no-bid "Halliburton" sweetheart state contract (HAVA money) from Sam Reed, Munro’s lifelong protégé and successor as Sec of State?
Why are barcodes on our ballots when State Code says "There shall be no marks on the ballot cards which would distinguish an individual voter‘s ballot card from other ballot cards."
Scratch that. Ten days after citing that WAC in our suit, Reed’s Election Office issued an underhanded REPEALER of that very line.
Ballot Tracker is a bad idea poorly executed. Wrong policy. Wrong product. Wrong company. Wrong place.
What to do?
The County is asking who believes Ballot Tracker weakens voter confidence. If that’s you, watch for our Petition to the Court.
Have your say. Outlook Inn is graciously hosting a "Barcodes off our Ballots" video screening and potluck, Sunday, April 1, 6pm. Take home a DVD and encrypted barcode T-shirt. Court cost donations welcome.
Regardless of this Case’s outcome, as Guinea Pigs and now Poster Child for Ballot Tracker’s derailing of the secret ballot, we have a unique patriotic duty here.