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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

GOP questions ballot security in letter to county auditor

Party chairwoman lists 10 concerns

Editor’s note: The second-to-last paragraph of this story was corrected to state “ballot envelope.”

Republican Party leaders expressed concerns this week about the security of ballots mailed during the August primary to the Spokane County elections office.

County party Chairwoman Cindy Zapotocky wrote county Auditor Vicky Dalton that a Republican observer saw uncovered trays of ballots being picked up at the downtown post office by a courier service contracted with the county. Zapotocky alleges that the courier made other stops with the ballots in his truck before dropping off the ballots at the elections office.

“This is not what we would term ‘secure handling’ of ballots,” Zapotocky wrote.

Dalton said the ballots should be covered when they’re taken from the post office by the courier service and that she will check with the post office to find out if and why they weren’t. She added, however, it would be difficult to tamper with ballots while they are in the care of post office or the courier service.

“It’s not like anybody can just walk in there,” she said.

While Zapotocky listed 10 concerns in her letter, she also praised the courteousness of the elections staff.

“We are grateful for the high-quality, hard-working employees of our county,” Zapotocky wrote. “We know that (Vicky) Dalton has increased the efficiency and security of the ballot processing effort. But there is always room for improvement …”

The Spokane County Canvassing Board met on Wednesday and decided to meet again later this month to discuss Zapotocky’s recommendations. The board also voted 3-0 to finalize the results of the August primary.

Among other concerns, Zapotocky questioned why Dalton places her name on election return envelopes, arguing that it gives her an unfair advantage when she runs for office.

County attorney Jim Emacio, a member of the Canvassing Board, said state law allows Dalton to place her name on the ballot envelope.

Dalton said using her name lets the public know she’s responsible for the elections office and helps keep her accountable.

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