Letters to the Editor

Make your vote count

In 2006, the Arlington Library Bond went to a recount. Ultimately, the bond failed by just 28 votes. Sam Reed, our Secretary of State for Washington at the time, was there that day. He handed us a Voter Intent packet which shows the statewide standards on what is a vote. You can find this packet at www.secstate.wa.gov/elections. While observing that recount, I learned a few things about voting that I would like to share because they impacted the vote in 2006:

Consistent Pattern. A consistent pattern on voted ballots is when the same marks are used for every office or issue on the ballot for which the voter has recorded a choice. A consistent pattern is required only when referring to marks made outside the target area.

Target Area. The oval, square, or arrow corresponding to a candidate, write-in line, or choice on the ballot where the voter is instructed to mark his or her vote. This is the area on the ballot that the tabulation system reads. Overvote. The situation in which more candidates or responses are voted for than is allowed. Undervote. A ballot or race on a ballot with no valid votes marked. Valid Vote. A vote which should be counted.

At the recount, it became clear that two of the voter intent items hurt us: the Undervote (not voting for or against) and the Overvote (voting both for and against). The upcoming bond election on May 20 for a new library here in Arlington has two measures that need to be passed. One, the Library Capital Facilities Area (LCFA), which forms the taxing district to pay for a capital project, and two, the capital project in this case is a new library.

So when voting on any election, here are a few suggestions to make your Voter Intent clear:

n Remember to use the same color pen throughout the whole ballot.

n Remember to be consistent throughout the whole ballot: if you start making check marks, make check marks throughout. Or X's or circles, whatever, just so you are consistent.

n Only mark the "targeted area" on the ballot whether that be a circle/bubble, a square, or an arrow.

n Do not make any marks outside of the target area i.e. the circle, box, arrows or lines. In addition, do not write your name anywhere on the ballot. Any words or stray marks could invalidate the whole ballot.

n If you make a mistake and need to correct a vote, cross through the mistake with a single X, and then fill in the targeted area with your mark, as long as it is a consistent type of mark throughout the whole ballot. Or, you could also get a new ballot from the County.

Once again, when you fill out your ballot, please make sure your voter intent is clear.

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