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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Editorial

Editorial: Dalton deserves to keep county auditor job

The Spokesman-Review

Vicky Dalton, Spokane County auditor since 1999, is making her fourth run for re-election. We have endorsed her in each of her previous races and see no reason to deviate from the script.

Election administration is the headline responsibility of the job, but the recording of documents, marriage and vehicle licensing, and managing the county’s books are also the duties of the auditor’s office. Dalton, who was hired by the county in 1989 as an internal auditor, has accrued a depth of experience in each facet.

She was president of the Washington State Association of County Auditors in 2011-2012.

Opponent Alene Lindstrand is a real estate agent and former owner of a pallet company. Most of her political experience has been at the precinct level, as a volunteer for the county planning commission and with the Spokane Association of Realtors.

An election observer since 2009, Lindstrand says the county’s election process is flawed at the front and back ends. Mail-in voting has diluted the meaning of elections and exposes the casting and counting of ballots to too many opportunities for mishandling or fraud, she says.

Lindstrand also says Dalton has not moved rapidly enough to adopt electronic document processing.

Setting aside questions about the wisdom of voting by mail – it or electronic voting are unlikely to be discarded – election security has improved at the local and national level since Florida’s infamous hanging chad controversy in 2000 forced an overhaul of the national election system.

Dalton, who has a degree in computer information management as well as accounting, is moving forward with the digitizing of document recording, which will allow electronic filing and shorten the recording process to minutes from weeks, the characteristic delay when she first took office.

Vehicle registration software is outdated, she says, but a shift to a statewide replacement system has been delayed by the Legislature’s grab of $3 million that was supposed to finance the effort.

The county was saddled with a $375,000 settlement in a case stemming from Dalton’s termination in 2012 of a contract with a licensing subagent who was allegedly conducting fraudulent transactions. Her decision was probably correct, but the Washington Counties Risk Pool opted to settle rather than fight.

And as the official who handles the county’s financial services, Dalton is working with the state to update software.

Dalton has not allowed her long tenure to dull her enthusiasm for the auditor’s work or slackened her efforts to keep Spokane County current with new practices and technology. There’s no good reason to remove her from an office she has managed well for many years.

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