Auditor calls for independent election observers

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While Washington State law calls for volunteers from the two major political parties to perform this function, Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson is calling for an expansion to the observer program.

“Interested parties without political affiliation should be afforded the same observation opportunities,” she said.

“Pierce County enjoys a strong and steady presence of Democratic and Republican observers. However, we must recognize that a substantial and growing percentage of voters don’t affiliate with either of the two major political parties.”

For independent observers, Anderson has reached out to the League of Women Voters of Tacoma-Pierce County (LOWV) to serve as the volunteer coordinator. Like political parties, the LOWV will recruit, appoint, schedule volunteer observers, and serve as a central point of contact with the Auditor’s Office.

“Providing volunteers for independent oversight of elections is perfectly aligned with the League’s mission. I hope that this model will be replicated in other counties,” said Cynthia Stewart, Tacoma-Pierce County League of Women Voters president.

Anyone interested in the Election Observer program should contact the appropriate coordinator:

Sharon Wilhelm, Independent Election Observer Coordinator c/o League of Women Voters at sharwilhelm@comcast.net
Julian Wheeler, Democratic Election Observer Coordinator at Julianfwheeler@aol.com
Chris Johnson, Republican Election Observer Coordinator at 253-722-5353 or PierceGOP@PierceGOP.org

Election observers are required to be Pierce County registered voters and complete one two-hour training before beginning their duties. Upcoming training dates for 2018 are:

Tuesday, July 10 from 1 to 3 p.m.
Thursday, July 12 from 10 a.m. to Noon

After being appointed and completing training, coordinators schedule volunteers for shifts that are typically two or four hours long during the day. On Election Day, night shifts are also needed. Volunteers sign up for as many shifts as they want and there are no required number of shifts.

Observers monitor:

Logic and accuracy test of tabulation equipment
Ballot drop box pick-ups
Ballot processing
Signature verification
Post-election audit

Anderson said, “I am very grateful to the Tacoma-Pierce County League of Women Voters for stepping forward to recruit and coordinate independent election observers. Transparency and accountability are incredibly important. We need citizens of every political stripe to be engaged.”

The public is welcome to view the election process in viewing corridors during work hours. An observer appointment is not necessary to visit the election center at 2501 S. 35th St. in Tacoma.

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