The following editorial originally appeared in the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin.
The 18-day voting period for the Aug. 6 primary election starts on Friday. In addition, Washington state is rolling out — and essentially testing — a new $9.5 million statewide elections system known as VoteWa.
Like many things involving technology, it’s wonderful — when it works.
In the days leading up to the primary election, some of the state’s 39 county auditors expressed concerns about the launch of VoteWa, which connects through a software upgrade all county election operations to a single database that allow them to share voter information in real time.
When functioning properly, according to reporting by Everett Herald political writer Jerry Cornfield, “election workers in Everett, Spokane and Yakima should to be able to sign on and, at the same moment, know if there is a new registered voter in Tacoma or if a current voter moved to a new address in Zillah.”
This information is critical because Washington state now has a same-day voter registration law that kicks in this election. This system is supposed to alert election workers if this new voter is registered elsewhere.
Yet, Cornfield reports that county auditors are now finding glitches in the system in the days leading up to the primary.
“This project is not ready for our voters. It really isn’t,” King County Auditor Julie Wise told members of the Senate state government committee. “We need to go through a mock election. We need to test the system.”
But county auditors, as a whole, said Washingtonians should not be overly concerned because they’re confident final results will be 100 percent accurate.
The statewide voter system has been remarkably efficient and accurate over the years. Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican, has done an outstanding job overseeing the election system and adding necessary safeguards and innovations. This follows the same pattern as her two predecessors, Sam Reed and Ralph Munro, also Republicans.
Wyman made the final call to move forward with the new software for this election, and we have confidence in her decision. Her reasoning is sound.
Wyman said she believes VoteWa is far more secure against potential cyberattacks than the legacy county systems.
In addition, testing the system in an off-year primary when turnout is traditionally low makes more sense than next year’s highly anticipated general election, where all statewide offices as well as the presidency will be on the ballot.
Still, as we have said over and over, every election regardless of the offices on the ballot, is important.
Each county and the state has got to get this absolutely right. The fact that auditors across the state are concerned means extra care will be taken to ensure the final tally is correct.