Auditor trying to discredit ranked choice

By Kelly Haughton
Published September 28th 2009 in The News Tribune
The Pierce County Elections Department is missing opportunities to save taxpayer money. During the primary season, it did not anticipate that about one-third of voters would receive a primary ballot with only one port commissioner race. By getting permission to run these races using ranked choice voting (RCV) and eliminating the need for a primary, the Elections Department could have saved the port district and the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Now, after being warned about the higher costs of running races on separate ballot cards, the Elections Department will be sending two ballot cards to each voter this fall. One ballot card will have only one race on it. This is a waste of more hundreds of thousands of dollars on printing and postage. Plus, voters will need to use two stamps to return their ballots.

While it would have taken some initiative to find a solution to this problem, our Elections Department should be aggressive in managing expenses. Of course, there is a political explanation for this lackluster effort: The auditor will be blaming RCV for this extra expense, while the real reason is her own lack of initiative.

If the auditor had taken advantage of these cost-saving measures, RCV would have resulted in lower total costs this year. Instead, she and her predecessor have run up expenses in order to discredit RCV. In jurisdictions where RCV is implemented properly, it saves money. It’s time for this to happen in Pierce County.