Journal of the San Juan Islands


Of ‘Big Brother’ & ballot barcodes | Letters

October 30, 2013 · Updated 11:34 AM

Imagine for a moment that former members of the CIA, FBI, and NSA created a product that could monitor and track all our votes. Any reason you’d feel uneasy about that?

The Mail-In Ballot Tracker story: It’s about a little barcode, unique to each voter, right there in the corner of your ballot. State officials will tell you that its only purpose is to follow your ballot through the voting process.

The problem is: Who’s doing the tracking? Are they connecting the barcode with how you voted? And, are they using that information to manipulate votes, create individual profiles, or something else?

Officials will scream up and down that it’s impossible to connect barcodes and ballots. The system that connects the two is “encrypted.” Right. We’ve all learned recently how secure “encrypted” things are from inquiring eyes at the NSA.

Eight years ago, a few of us filed suit to try to restore our secret ballot. And this summer, we won!

That’s right, citizen activism pays off.

Except we didn’t, really. The judge ruled that MiBT wasn’t properly tested and must therefore be dumped, but the issue of unique identifiers on ballots is still in the courts.

So, this election, once again: barcodes on our ballots. Not only that, but one uncertified tracking system has apparently been replaced with another.

There are other options, but we need your help.

In 2007 the King County Council passed a motion banning unique identifiers on ballots. We’re hoping, with our new council and the momentum of this lawsuit behind us, we can reclaim the same protection for the residents of San Juan County.

This election day, we will ask our county council to pass a similar motion. You can be there with us, in person or in spirit. Join us Tuesday, Nov. 5, 9 a.m., at the council chambers across the street from the Court House, 350 Court Street, Friday Harbor.

Please email your council representatives about this:

Bob Jarman: bobja@sanjuanco.com, Rick Hughes: Rickh@sanjuanco.com, Jamie Stephens: jamies@sanjuanco.com; or call them at (360) 378-2898. Thank you so much.

Allan Rosato, Orcas Island


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