While we are still kevetching about the lousy voter turnout in last week’s Primary Election — which has increased to a still-embarrassing 29 percent from under 24 percent on election day as more ballots have been received by mail — it is nice to see that the new statewide election software worked well.
The VoteWa system didn’t crash as some county auditors feared would happen nor was it breached by hackers. In fact, no hacking attempt was made. This is known because VoteWa’s bulked-up cybersecurity defenses would have kicked in and alerted election officials, reported Jerry Cornfield, political writer for the Herald of Everett.
“Overall, I’m really happy with the VoteWa system and how our counties used it,” Secretary of State Kim Wyman said the day after the election. “I think it will exponentially change the way they do business in a positive way. This system is really going to put Washington into a great position for the 2020 cycle and beyond.”
But what really makes Washington’s election system nearly impossible to penetrate is the paper ballots used in the state’s almost exclusive vote-by-mail system. Paper ballots are the gold standard for fair elections. Those ballots can’t be tampered with through a cyber attack nor can always be recounted.
The VoteWa system connects the various auditors’ offices and tracks who is and isn’t eligible to vote.
This month’s election, for the first time, citizens were able to register to vote — and then vote — on Primary Election Day.
Cornfield reported that new twist also went off without a hitch. Although, few actually registered on Primary Election Day.
Just 257 people across the state took advantage of same-day voting, according to figures gathered through VoteWa, Wyman said.
“It was a very, very low number, kind of a dip-your-toe-in-the-water experience,” she added.
But state officials expect — or perhaps hope — far more people not now registered to vote will opt to do so on Election Day 2020 for the presidential and gubernatorial elections.
Still, there are several elections between now and then. The next is the General Election of 2019, when many local officials will be elected, including four members of the Walla Walla City Council and a Port of Walla Walla commissioner.
Voting has been made so easy, including free postage to mail your completed ballot to the Auditor’s Office, there is no reasonable excuse not to vote.
Voter turnout should be far closer to 100 percent in November than the dismal 29 percent it stands at today.