Local ballots lawsuit heard by appeals court in Seattle

Submitted by the San Juan County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office

On Monday, June 4, the Court of Appeals in Seattle listened to oral arguments in the case over the use of barcodes on ballots.

“Every oral argument is short, with the judges very active with questions,” said Prosecuting Attorney Randall Gaylord. The judges asked many questions regarding the procedure, law and ways in which barcodes are used.

Tim White of San Juan Island and Alan Rosato of Orcas Island contend that barcodes represent a serial number and that they make the ballots “not uniform.” This lack of uniformity, they argue, sets up the possibility that the secrecy of the ballot will be impaired.

The elections officials point out that the barcode makes no association with the voter or any vote. The county elections officials use the Hart InterCivic system which has been certified by the Secretary of State. The bar codes solve two purposes. First, they improve the integrity of vote-by-mail elections by assuring that ballots are not counted twice. Second, barcodes allow workers to quickly find ballots that need additional review to resolve questions on the ballot.

The Court of Appeals is expected to make a ruling within six months.

Prosecutor Randall Gaylord attended for San Juan County Auditor and Assistant Solicitor General Peter Gonick appeared for the Secretary of State Kim Wyman. Knoll Lowney appeared with White and Rosato.