Opinion

Whatcom auditor reminds voters to get ballots in early

A voter drops off his ballot at the drop box at the Whatcom County Courthouse South Parking Lot, 201 Grand Ave. in 2011.
A voter drops off his ballot at the drop box at the Whatcom County Courthouse South Parking Lot, 201 Grand Ave. in 2011. The Bellingham Herald

I recently returned from the State Elections Conference and was honored to receive the “Auditor of the Year Award” from Secretary of State Kim Wyman. Receiving that award was both a surprise and a great privilege. I am jazzed up about the opportunities we have in the coming months to continue to serve our county in providing election services for everyone. There are many dedicated employees in my office who do the work behind the scenes to make it all possible.

Voter Outreach

We were recognized for all our efforts in promoting voter outreach. She referenced the work we do with the parties and interested groups, as well as our work with the students at Western and Whatcom Community College. As an example, this past year we designed a poster aimed at getting young people to register to vote, featuring a photo of students from Whatcom. We then supplied the posters to each of the high schools in the county. I also made guest visits at many of the high school civics classes.

Cooperation

My staff regularly provides materials for groups for various registration drives. In addition, both I and members of my staff share ideas with other counties and work on committees to improve operational standards and best practices.

Creative Ideas

The Secretary also recognized efficiencies and creative ideas. My staff regularly meets to discuss how we can improve our operations. We institute changes and try new ideas to expand our capability.

Ballot Drop Boxes

For the past several months we have been working to bring additional permanent voter drop boxes to more areas in Whatcom County. For the primary election, there will be four new boxes in operation: Sudden Valley, Birch Bay, Whatcom Community College (Cordata and North Bellingham area), and a larger box in Lynden. Look for an ad in this paper and check the ballot insert reflecting the boxes that will be open for the Primary Election. By the general election we will also have boxes in Sumas and at the North Fork Library in Kendall. Again, see your ballot insert for complete information on locations. The use of such boxes is increasing. In the last election, 53 percent of voters returned their ballot using a drop box. And having them assures the ballot goes directly to our office and will be received by the election deadline.

Vote early

The biggest thing that you as voters can do to be certain that votes are counted as soon as possible is to make sure you get them to our office as soon as possible. That means don’t wait until Monday before the election and say, “Oh, I guess I better get out my ballot and get it marked.” This will leave you scurrying to get it completed, and then “where can I mail this; will it get there in time; do I have a stamp?” The voters are mailed the ballots 20 days before the election so there is no need to leave it to the last minute to get it all done. Take the time to explore the candidates and the issues. Use the Local Voters’ Pamphlet you will receive in the mail. Complete your ballot and turn it in. The more we receive early, the more we have counted by election night. At this time we are able to count all of the ballots that are received in our office on election night. If everyone waits until Election Day that is what delays the final results to not being available until sometimes as late as Friday after the election. If you don’t receive a ballot, call the Elections office at 360-676-6742 and you can get a replacement. You can make the difference!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Debbie Adelstein is the Whatcom County Auditor. Contact her at 360-715-7474 or dadelstein@co.whatcom.wa.us.

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