San Juan County Elections Office explains barcode confusion

There seems to be some confusion as to why there are barcodes on your ballot. Some people think that San Juan County has a list of which ballots are given to which voter, and someone could find out how your ballot was voted. Nothing could be further from the truth. All of us who work with your ballot in San Juan County respect and protect your right to vote a secret ballot.

John, a voter and friend, came by the office to tell us he did not want barcodes on his ballot. After we explained our process and why the barcodes are there, he left with a better understanding of our ballot processing system. Before he left, John asked, “Why aren’t you telling people what these barcodes are all about?”

Here are the facts. There are three barcodes on the front of the ballot that indicate the ballot number, the ballot precinct, and the ballot election. The numbers on the back of the ballot are the same except they also indicate the back of the ballot. Some people believe we know or could find out how someone has voted by using these barcodes. That is just not the case. We only scan the barcode and not how the ballot is voted. Have you ever received a Fed Ex package with a barcode on the label? By scanning the barcode you can find out where that package has been, but not what is inside. By scanning your ballot barcode, we can find out when your ballot was sent, when it was returned, and when it was counted. We cannot determine how it was voted.

The Washington Secretary of State requires that we use a state-certified ballot processing system. Barcodes are recommended by the Secretary of State for use in ballot reconciliation. San Juan County uses the Hart InterCivic system. The barcodes are there to ensure that every ballot that is returned was issued by our office, is counted and only counted once. We have strict procedures in place to ensure that your vote is secret. We are your citizen watch group and as a team we are responsible for making certain every vote in every race on every ballot is counted as the voter intended. It is our duty to question procedures that we may feel in any way hinder the privacy of voting or accuracy of counting the ballots of San Juan County. We whole-heartedly endorse the use of barcodes on ballots. They provide the security and accuracy needed to run an open and truthful election.

Robin Wadleigh 317-4346

PO Box 1753

Friday Harbor WA

Beth Phillip 378-2229

1785 Douglas Rd,

Friday Harbor WA

Dixie Irwin 378-2038

PO Box 807

Friday Harbor WA

Barbara Fagen 378-6178

11 Indian Beach Ln

Friday Harbor WA

Judy Moody 378-1638

321 Geneste St

Friday Harbor WA

Marie Williamson 378-9469

PO Box 3140

Friday Harbor WA

Mary Smith 378-6907

PO Box 3234

Friday Harbor WA

Ardith Kelsey 378-1621

PO Box 1849

Friday Harbor WA

Doris Schaller 370-7563

685 Spring St 128

Friday Harbor WA

Carlys Allen 370-7562

PO Box 3065

Friday Harbor WA

Doris Schaller is Elections Supervisor for San Juan County.