The national debacle over alleged voter fraud, mail-in-ballot insecurity as the postal service gets gutted, and unsanctioned “ballot harvesting boxes” has put county auditors in the hot seat this election. Okanogan County has a long and secure reputation as a forerunner in mail-in voting. Ballots should have arrived in your mailbox last week. If not, you can request a new ballot from the County Auditor. Call (509) 422-7240.
Last election cycle, I got a notice in the mail stating my signature needed verification. “Did I send in that signature card?” I could not remember. So, I gave the election office a call to find out if they had my current signature on file. I was pleasantly surprised that, not only was the information readily available in a fast database, but I learned what happens when your signature goes amiss.
My interaction with the elections administrator was very friendly and efficient! The information was quickly at hand and she gives me an answer without putting me on hold, calling me back, “record me for training purposes,” or making me sign into some online portal. She just answered me straight up on the phone — how refreshing! She informed me that I have two valid signatures on file, and I could use either one to sign my ballot. I was curious as to how that happened.
It turns out, I did, after all, send the signature card in as requested. In the meantime, the Canvassing Board certified my ballot and contested signature, validating my vote. The Canvassing Board? Well, I didn’t know what that was either, so she explained. The Canvassing Board is comprised of two county commissioners and a judge. They verify contested ballots. Apparently, they looked at my signature and made the determination that, “it looks good enough.” They do have special training in how to ascertain signatures. So, that is how it works. Now, I have two options for signing my name on file.
We take voting with some seriousness around here. We devote at least two cups of coffee and hours doing our research while filling in bubbles. I was totally dismayed by the lack of information on any of the advisory votes, which are meaningless anyway — a waste of ink. We elect representatives to weigh through the minutia; I don’t want to give a nod or not if we should tax heavy equipment rentals — but it sounds like an expensive ordeal to those who need to rent them.
Contrary to what the proponents of these advisory votes intended — to make sure the citizens watchdog the state’s taxation — the only purpose they serve is to highlight our state’s ridiculous, piecemeal tax code. Rather than impose a simple and equitable income tax, we are asked to “advise” the Legislature to carry on with one of the most unfair tax systems in the nation.
Right next door, in Idaho, one of the reddest states in the union, they impose an income tax. Overall, they pay less tax, but their system is rated fairer. Like us, they impose sales and property taxes, but unlike us, they generate revenue from a graduated income tax where higher earners pay more. Wages are low, but their property taxes are also low, which means housing is cheaper and longtime residents don’t get taxed out of their family homes. What a notion: adjust property taxes to promote affordability, impose an income tax on billionaires (we have at least 13, many of whom have gotten richer due to the pandemic), and fund government services without disproportionately taxing low wage earners.
After I voted, my husband said to me, “I don’t remember how to sign my name?”
“You what?” I said. This is a signature that could rival any physicians’ because his chicken scratch bears no resemblance to any letter in his name. “Does it really matter? I mean you just scribble a line?”
“I haven’t signed anything non-digital for so long … I don’t remember how to sign it on my ballot,” he said.
I had no reply. But I am confident if they don’t accept it, the Canvassing Board will make sure his vote counts. You can still register to vote until Oct. 26 at www.votewa.gov.