As primary looms, Washington ballot counter passes test


Washington presidential primary is March 10

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — In 2016, Washington’s GOP primary was practically meaningless since Donald Trump already secured the nomination by the time it was held. And Democrats held caucuses two months earlier.

That’s why a year ago the Washington legislature moved their presidential primary to March 10 — just one week after Super Tuesday — in an effort to give state voters more say in the parties’ nominees.

With the Iowa caucus vote-counting debacle still fresh in the minds of political observers, Nevada officials faced scrutiny of their vote-tabulating process. It went smoothly and gave a big boost to Bernie Sanders.

Tuesday afternoon, Clark County Elections officials tested the “logic and accuracy” of the programming they’ll use to tabulate the ballots and report the results for the primary in 2 weeks.

Ballots being processed in Vancouver at the Clark County Elections Office, February 25, 2020 (KOIN)

“We have sort of a test batch of ballots and they’ll be scanned through the system and tabulated,” Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey told KOIN 6 News. “We’ll compare the results of that tabulation with our expected results and then, if they match up, it’s called the ‘completion of the logic and accuracy test.'”

And in the test with a few hundred mock ballots — observed by a representative from the Washington Secretary of State’s office plus certified volunteer observers — everything was accurate.

That was expected as they had already done a pre-test.

Clark County (Washington) Elections
Washington state 2020 Presidential Primary

“Voters should take great comfort that their ballot will be accurately processed and tabulated,” he said. “None of the ballot processing equipment is connected to the internet in any way whatsoever.”

The paper ballots are scanned and that information is stored onto a magnetic media, he said. After polls close on primary night, “those magnetic media cards are then put into a separate computer, and that computer then tabulates the information on those magnetic storage cards and produces primary election results.”

Ballots already mailed

All registered voters in Clark County were mailed ballots last Friday. In Washington, each major political party requires voters to choose a party in order to vote in the primary. That is, a voter who identifies as Democrat can not vote for the Republican and vice versa. Anyone who tries to change their primary party declaration might not have their vote counted.

“It’s a nominating process that’s conducted on behalf of the 2 major political parties. That’s why they are required to make a political party affiliation on the front of the ballot and to sign that,” he said.

A voter can vote for whomever they choose in the November general election.

Voters need to turn in their ballot by 8 p.m. on March 10. There are 7 ballot drop sites already available to voters, Kimsey said. On election day there will be more drop sites as well as at the Clark County Elections Office.

Ballots being processed in Washington state (State of Washington, file)

The returned ballots will be scanned for tabulation beginning at 7 p.m. on March 10. Officials said results should be available online around 8:30 p.m. that night.

But Washington voters will see 13 names on the Democratic side of the ballot, including
Andrew Yang, Cory Booker, Michael Bennett, Deval Patrick and John Delaney. They all recently dropped out, long after the deadline for appearing on the ballot passed.

And it’s possible, given the math and money equations candidates will face after the results of Super Tuesday on March 3, that even more candidates could drop out.

The Oregon presidential primary is set for May 19, 2020.

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