The Moses Lake school bond election held Feb. 14, 2017 demonstrated problems with Revised Code of Washington (RCW) laws. In the past, elections were held on specific days at polling places. Voters were verified prior to dispensing ballots. Ballots were not counted until poles closed. Absentee ballots and problems were few.
Mailing ballots has many potential problems. Mail theft, verification of identity, and timely postmarking to name a few. Proper and timely notification of challenged ballot signatures is problematic. The RCWs that specify ballot processing must limit public access to ballots, especially if challenged, until polls close. Challenged mailed ballots must be notified by certified mail and, if necessary, at least three attempted telephone calls.
The major problem with the February 2017 election was the auditor’s alleged failure to attempt phoning approximately 30 voters who did not respond to mailed challenged ballot notices. If the difference between approve and disapprove votes had been greater than the number of uncounted challenged ballots, substantial compliance with the RCWs would have existed. However, the vote margin was significantly less. Every challenged ballot was not counted. Every voter who sent a challenged ballot may not have been notified. Failures may have been due to multiple causes.
What is the important lesson taught by this election? “Boohoo, we didn’t win” or “Every Vote Counts?” Actual voting fraud, or just the potential thereof, must be eliminated, or our country’s most sacred right is corrupted.
Consider first, our democratically elected school board has several legal obligations, one of which is fiscal responsibility. We may not like their decisions, but they are attempting to do the best with limited local and State resources.
Second, let us all work to get our election laws and process improved to avoid future problems. This includes becoming fully informed voters on the candidates, issues, propositions, and procedures. Voting is both a right and duty.
Third, let us all recognize education is not the school’s responsibility, or even capability. Initially it is parental responsibility. That evolves into personal responsibility. Schools are only part of the process. Schools do not manufacture graduates because teachers cannot force knowledge into students. Both parents and teacher must work to inspire a love of learning. Each student is unique, and we need to encourage the strengths and skills of each one.
Fourth, we must recognize the potential future of internet-based university instruction, starting with students we now consider as high school juniors and seniors. This may become quite common. Those students would need far fewer physical classrooms, and get high school diplomas in ten or eleven years.
Fifth, and most important, contact your elected representatives and state senator. All the screaming about the failed school bond election has ignored the primary problem. The RCWs were not mandatory with respect to security and processing. We shall never know what the true count should have been. Now our concern must be to assure the integrity of election processing such that Every Vote Counts in future elections.
Thomas Fancher is a Moses Lake resident and avid letter writer to the Columbia Basin Herald. He can be reached at email@example.com.