Whatcom auditor: New ballot envelopes draw privacy concerns

Posted by Ralph Schwartz on October 29, 2013 

Turnout for the Nov. 5 general election is at 10 percent and counting as of yesterday -- eight days before ballots are due. About 12,000 ballots had been received by the Whatcom County Auditor's Office as of Monday afternoon, Oct. 28. 

Those thousands of voters who are already done fulfilling their civic duty/privilege have noticed the new ballot envelope: simpler, with no fold to cover your official signature.

The Auditor's Office changed to this type of envelope to save costs -- the special envelope with the extra flap was more expensive -- and to save time, as the thousands of submitted ballots are handled individually.

Auditor Debbie Adelstein said a relatively small number of people -- less than 50 -- have called or emailed to complain about the new envelopes because the signatures are visible. Identity theft was the primary concern, Adelstein said.

She said the state changed the law in 2011 to allow for the visible signatures. There's not a serious identity theft issue, she said, because the signatures are public record anyway. Besides, she said, dropping the ballot straight into a county ballot box or a secure mailbox will ensure the envelopes are in front of the eyes of postal/election people only.

Adelstein said she is surveying the other 38 counties in Washington to find out how many others have switched to the less expensive envelopes. She suspects it is more than half.

KGMI covered this story too and posted it this morning.

The auditor said the new envelopes would be evaluated once the election is over.




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