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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Q & A with Spokane County auditor candidates

1) Should the county auditor be a partisan office?

Vicky Dalton: No, I firmly believe the county auditor should be a nonpartisan office. This is an administrative position that doesn’t set policy but is responsible for providing services. Qualifications for this office should be based on experience and ability, not on partisan beliefs.

Alene Lindstrand: The county auditor should not function partisan in any way. The office must be fair to all, transparent and accountable to the people, regardless what letter follows their name on the ballot.

2) How would you increase voter participation?

Dalton: We have already implemented numerous improvements in Washington state – registration at licensing, vote-by-mail, on-line registration, convenient ballot drop boxes and online voters’ guide for candidate information. I will continue to work with the Secretary of State, political parties and advocacy groups to promote voter registration, access to information and convenience in voting.

Lindstrand: Encourage voters to create an “event” on Facebook by posting a photo of yourself voting —encouraging others to do the same; speak to high school seniors and at colleges about voting (with current info, not outdated equipment); restore voter confidence and knowledge with voter education using website, flyers, free classes.

3) Do you support Washington’s vote by mail system? Why or why not?

Dalton: I support vote-by-mail. Receiving the ballot through the mail increases voter turnout, especially in non-presidential elections. Because voters receive the ballot three weeks before the due date, voters are better informed because they can research the candidates and issues on their ballots.

Lindstrand: Many people miss poll sites which fostered sense of community, duty, and opportunity to teach children civics. Ballot processing begins Oct. 20: weeks of processing lots more expensive than originally indicated. Changing your mind (lineouts) requires ballot to be re-voted (duplicated); over 20,000 ballots re-voted in 2010! Security is inadequate.

4) What change or changes would you like in state law related to the auditor’s duties?

Dalton: Every signature on the returned ballot envelopes is verified by human eye to the signature in the voter’s registration record. Most records contain only the original signature, often decades old. Authorizing more signatures from the voter’s correspondence with us, such as the signature on the ballot envelope, would allow the utilization of software for the initial comparison, speeding up processing while maintaining high accuracy levels.

Lindstrand: An independent election audit required yearly (currently, no viewing allowed of the program used in our counting machines); enforce corrective action when state audit findings consistently report “lacking in internal controls;” require online budgets compared to actual expenses, month- and year-to-date for accountability; restore regular state performance audits.

5) What efficiencies are possible in the auditor’s office? Name one or two.

Dalton: The next significant efficiency project is to move from paper-based transactions in the accounting division to electronic processing. This involves scanning invoices, departments authorizing payments electronically and paying vendors electronically. This will greatly speed the payment cycle and allow us to monitor transactions for delays in processing. This will also reduce staff effort across the county as well as save postage costs.

Lindstrand: Update existing programming in all departments; use electronic checking. Use a local printing company for ballots and envelopes — currently trucked in from Seattle. Use or rent electronic signature verification technology as banks do - currently, all done visually one at a time. Never reject recording documents for non-material mistakes.

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