The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

By Katie Teachout
The Journal 

Ballots begin to roll in

Ballot-counting equipment certified by Secretary of State's Office


Last updated 7/30/2020 at 9:06am

Katie Teachout

Jacque Laird, Elections Administrator with the Adam County Auditor's Office, fires up the ballot-counting machine for a test run in the new elections center at 106 W. Main in Ritzville. The elections center was funded with federal and state grants through the CARES Act 2020 and the Help America Vote Act.

RITZVILLE — Adams County's ballot-counting equipment for the Aug. 4 primary election was certified by Heather Sorgen of the state Secretary of State's Office today, July 29.

County Elections Administrator Jacque Laird did a test run of over 700 test ballots to make sure the machine was calculating correctly, while Sorgen observed.

Sorgen said she certified the ballot-counting equipment in Lincoln County earlier in the day, and is headed to Whitman County on July 30.

On election day, ballots will be counted in precinct batches.

When ballots are received in the Auditor's Office, Laird scans them with a bar scanner, which picks up the precinct from the label on the outside of the ballot envelope. The number of ballots received from each precinct is recorded.

Each individual signature is then checked against signatures stored in the computer from voter registration cards and/or driver licenses. Laird said if there is a question about the validity of a signature, she has Adams County Auditor Heidi Hunt double-check it.

"And if I'm not sure, it goes to the Canvassing Board for verification," Hunt said, adding election officials had their annual Washington State Patrol Crime Lab training on signature verification last month.

"Then, when we open the envelopes and get ready to count, we check the number of accepted ballots against the number recorded in the computer," she said. "That's a really important verification, so they're balanced all along."

As of Wednesday afternoon, July 29, 1,228 ballots had been received so far from county voters; more than 7,000 were mailed out about three weeks ago. The ballot envelopes won't be opened until Thursday or Friday.

Hunt said opening the ballots a few days ahead of time allows for the folds from the mailed ballots to relax, and reduce jams in the machine.

Katie Teachout

Heather Sorgen (right) of the Secretary of State's Office certifies the Adams County ballot-counting equipment, and records the seal number on the ballots to be counted August 4, with Elections Administrator Jacque Laird.

Voters still have time to drop their ballots in the mail; or in drop boxes throughout the county, including Ritzville City Hall, 216 E. Main Ave .; Adams County Public Services Building, 425 E. Main St., Othello; Town of Lind, 116 1/2 W. Second St., Lind; and Town of Washtucna City Hall, 165 S. Main St., Washtucna.

"There's a lot of checks and balances. I'm really confident in the process; the checks and balances, and the security. I have no qualms about voting in Washington State by mail," Hunt said, adding that when ballots are picked up from ballot drop boxes, there are always two people present.

"They count the envelopes, then seal them up. Then they drive them in, where the envelopes are recounted again, to verify the number on the seal," Hunt said.

The initial primary election tally cannot be released until 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4, Laird said.

Author Bio

Katie Teachout, Editor

Katie Teachout is the editor of The Ritzville Adams County Journal. Previously, she worked as a reporter at The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle, the Oroville Gazette-Tribune, Northern Kittitas County Tribune and the Methow Valley News. She is a graduate of Western Washington University.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 5096591020
Contact Katie Teachout


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