Thursday, October 6, 2005
by Frances Potts
Change can be confusing. And the new election method of voting-by-mail rather than at the polls is lending itself to its own brand of confusion.
A couple of questions are popping up from concerned people.
One of those questions arose from a handful who did not receive a ballot for the Primary Election.
According to Diana Soules, election manager for the Yakima County Auditor's office, only three people in the county, who were eligible to vote in the primary, did not receive ballots. A few other calls were received from people who thought they should get a ballot but did not, were not eligible for various reasons.
"We send the ballots out 20 days prior to the election, and, if notified that they aren't received, we can provide replacement ballots right up to, and even on, election day, if they come to the auditor's office," said Soules.
Of course, she added, the sooner the auditor's office is notified of non-delivery of a ballot, the quicker the replacement ballot can be mailed. Those who need replacements on election day would have to go to the auditor's office to pick it up.
"If voters don't receive their ballots for the General Election by Oct. 28, they should be calling us," said Soules. The General Election is Nov. 8, 2005.
Another concern centers on the lack of faith some people have in the postal service. What if, they ask, their ballot is lost on the way to the Yakima Auditor's Office?
"Anyone who needs to know if their ballot was received, may call the auditor's office at 509-574-1340," said Soules.
Several lists originate at the auditor's office.
Names of registered voters for any jurisdiction can be provided, along with the last five days on which they voted. The names of voters who were sent ballots can be provided during an election, from the moment the ballot is issued to the time it is certified. Also, the names of voters who registered in a partisan-type election are listed, which is the only time a voter's name appears in connection with a specific political party.
However, there can appear to be a discrepancy in the voters' lists, depending at what point in time the information is requested.
"We can get lists of multiple things that are asked for, depending on how patient people want to be," said Soules.
She noted that a voter who moves out of his or her voting district even a week after the election would most likely not be listed as having voted in that district. However, voting records do travel with voters to their new jurisdiction, showing that they did vote in the last election, but not where.
Anyone may request any of the above lists from the auditor's office, which will provide them in either hard copy, CDs, e-mail or by FAX. However, there is a fee, depending on the volume of the report, with a minimum of $10.50. These lists do not appear on any website, Soules said.
Also, those requesting lists must be prepared to sign a request form and a statement that they will not be used for commercial purposes.
With a simple phone call to the auditor's office at 509-574-1340, a voter can learn if one's ballot was received and counted, Soules emphasized.
The auditor's office is located in the Yakima County Courthouse, 128 N. Second Street, Room 117.