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Pierce County may be weird, but that’s our right

Post by Kim Bradford on April 1, 2009 at 8:14 pm with No Comments »
April 1, 2009 8:14 pm

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Lawmakers think voters here are silly for still going to the polls. There are worse things – like sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong.

How does a harmless divergence from the accepted norm merit the intervention of venerable state legislators?

More to the point, why in the heck is the Legislature trying to meddle with the way Pierce County votes?

So we’re different, perhaps even a bit behind the times. Old ways die hard here. We still elect colorful characters. We still build like there is no tomorrow (or at least we did until the economy threatened to prove us right).

And, yes, some of us still like the idea that we can show up at a neighborhood church or school on Election Day and vote the way God intended: at the polls.

So what? It’s not hurting anyone else. Running a two-headed voting system costs Pierce taxpayers an extra $70,000. But if they are willing to foot the bill, how’s it anyone else’s business?

The answer is it’s not. But that hasn’t stopped lawmakers and the state’s top elections officials from trying to force Pierce County to mend its ways.

House Bill 1572, which has passed the House and is now poised for a Senate vote, would reverse the state’s policy of letting counties choose for themselves whether all-mail voting is the best approach.

That policy is only four years old. And the only thing that has changed over the last four years is that Pierce is now the sole abstainer from counties’ stampede to the mailbox.

The Secretary of State’s office certainly has a vested interest in paring the number of election laws on the books, but since when has streamlining the code been a concern of the Legislature’s.

We get that paying extra to cater to a dwindling set of voters in the name of populism or stemming the mails’ potential for fraud or whatever reason seems crazy. We’re literally a county of two minds on the question, with our County Council and county executive split on whether to keep poll voting.

That’s who should be making this decision, not a bunch of legislators Pierce County voters don’t elect. Sending a county lobbyist to Olympia to lobby for this legislation, as Executive Pat McCarthy did, is an end-run that undercuts local control.

Call Pierce County backwards – just don’t call us boring. And don’t try to tell our voters how to vote. We’re perfectly capable of hashing that out on our own.

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