If you are mailing your ballot, you need to know that the important thing is not when the mail will be picked up by the U.S. postal truck - the schedule posted on all mailboxes - but rather the date the mail center in Everett finally processes your mailed ballot. Thus, you could drop your ballot in a street mailbox this Monday evening, thinking you are on time, but the mail from that box may be picked up Tuesday, trucked to Everett and not processed until after midnight Tuesday, giving it a Wednesday, Nov 8, date stamp. And your ballot does not get counted. Even a stamp from after 8 p.m. Tuesday from the Everett processing center would make your ballot ineligible.
Solution: Our auditor, Debbie Adelstein, has been installing special ballot drop boxes all over the county for several years now. Volunteer teams from the auditor’s office pick these ballots up each day with a final pickup at 8 p.m. on Tuesday evening. Three new locations were added this year, making a total of
15 18 ballot boxes. The auditor’s website has an excellent map of their locations so you can find the one most convenient for you. Most - if not all - are drive up, allowing you to slip your ballot envelope into the box from your car window. I used the one at Sehome Village and it can be approached from either direction, allowing the driver or a passenger to easily drop the ballot in the box. New this year are boxes in Point Roberts, Custer and Acme.
Auditor web page with map of ballot boxes throughout Whatcom County.
These ballot boxes are permanently installed, so once you find one near you, or convenient to your daily travels, you can count on it being there each election season. Adelstein has added several new locations each year and hopefully will fill in the very few gaps that remain.
Just to take this two steps further, I think we are lucky to have paper ballots and a couple weeks in which to fill them out. With cyber mischief, electronic ballots can and have been miscounted. There is absolutely no such thing as a secure electronic ballot; maybe sometime in the future, but not yet. Voting is so important to our concept of democracy that we should give it the extra effort of a paper ballot and not the easy but insecure way of electronic voting.
Secondly, I am old enough to fondly remember the neighborhood voting locations and the social value of this patriotic mission from using voting booths. But I also remember being in the booth, curtain closed behind me, and finding ballot issues or candidates that I did not expect or was not prepared for. And people in line behind me waiting their turn. Now at home, I can review the ballot and set it aside to mark up when I am more sure of my voting intentions.
A secure paper ballot, filled out on a desk at home at our leisure and with election information at hand, is the way we can enable all citizens to vote intelligently and feel confident that the official election results are the true results.
Update note: Thanks to Bill McCallum for noting we have 18, not 15 drop boxes.