Wonderful watch of the vote count | Guest Column

By Lee and Dawn McCravey

San Juan County election count witnesses

We would like to let others know that we had a wonderful time watching the vote count in Friday Harbor. They were very thorough, especially when it came to those votes that were either “write-in” or marked in some way that was not clear and might not be tabulated in the electronic counter.

You may think that this is a simple process, but we discovered otherwise.

What we witnessed was not a vote counting per se, we witnessed the verification of signatures, the opening of the ballots, the separation of ballots and security envelopes, and then the scanning of the ballots in the State of Washington data bank.

On the day we were there, they processed about 1,800 ballots from all the islands, San Juan, Orcas and Lopez. There were several groups that ballots were divided into, more specifically, regular ballots which had no omissions, write-in names or any markings that would require additional review or clarification as to the intent of the voter.

To say that they were methodical about their work would be an understatement. The process would have made an accountant envious for its checking and re-checking. It was apparent that these people have done it for a long time and were very good about doing the work.

As smooth as the operation appeared to flow, there are some things that slowed and made the process a bit more complicated. The issue that stands out the most is the “write-in” candidate. It could be Mickey Mouse or just someone the voter decided was better qualified for the position than the candidates that filed for the office. While it is the right of every voter to fill out their ballot exactly as they desire, doing this has an impact on the time and the cost of the election.

There are times when writing in for a candidate could be impactful, but it basically just slowed the count with no other effect, making a long day longer.

There are times when external influences can be impactful in an election and the write-in process.

The best intentions of a local newspaper recommendations, or a candidate’s decision that they may no longer want to serve in that office they filed for, can cause complications for those handling the ballots. This should not be interpreted as being critical, quite the opposite. This demonstrates why the democratic process of voting is so dynamic. We were able to witness something unique and wonderful about the process.

We would encourage anyone who truly wants to understand our democracy to volunteer as an observer.

A very special thanks to Camolyn and Carly at the voting office.

This was Camolyn’s first election to serve in this capacity. She was thorough, conscientious and patient, and is an asset for the voters in San Juan County.

This was the first year the McCraveys served as official vote witnesses.