Ballot instructions ignored by some, officials maintain

Peninsula Daily News

Friday, March 30, 2007

PORT ANGELES---It surely sounds simple:  Fill in the box with a black pen.

But Washington voters are devilishly clever about disregarding this easy instruction.

They mark ballots with X’s, circle candidate’s names or cross them out.

Sometimes they use two or three methods.

And that, say State Auditor Sam Reed and his counterpart, Patty Rosand, drives elections officials cross-eyed.

In the last general election, Reed issued 11th hour instructions on how county canvassing boards should judge disputed ballots.

In Clallam County, the rules disputed in hundreds of votes being invalidated, Rosand recalled Thursday, although she could not provide an exact number.

This despite the county’s spending nearly $200,000 for ballot-scanning computers that were supposed to take “human guesswork” out of the process, she said.

Reed said during a Thursday visit to Port Angeles that his office would issue a new manual for the general election that will end Nov. 6.

It won’t be so strict, he said.

Nonetheless, Rosand said she and her elections assistant, Shoona Rodon--both of whom serve on Reed’s rule writing committee---still are puzzled over what to do with ballots where candidates’ names are circled, opposed to scratched out.

“Perhaps we need to do some better education on how to mark a ballot so voters can understand what to do,” Rosand said Thursday.

She called the manual for auditors, “a difficult issue.  We don’t seem to be coming to a big agreement.

“You have to devise the booklet that will cover every scenario, ---and the voter will always come up with a new one for you.”



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