Thursday, October 25, 2018

Visiting the Pierce County Elections Office

Students in the Bridges program have been learning about the importance of voting while participating in a series of iCivics lessons leading up to a mock election.

As part of our preparation, we visited the Pierce County Elections office.

  A: "Voter ballots go through multiple processes before getting counted up for election day. First, the ballot gets sorted to see if it has the correct signature. If it does, it continues in the process. If it does not, a message gets sent to the voter telling them they need to come in and re-validate their signature."

J: "They take the ballots, scan them in a machine, take a picture, and separate them into the ones that pass the inspection."  

K: "The envelopes go through the machine a second time, where the bottoms of the envelopes get sliced open so that the "Secrecy Envelope" can be taken out."
E: "They cut the end of the envelope off so they can see who the person voted for, but not the person's name."

 K: "The yellow boxes are the ballots that are in the process of being sorted."

J: "The green boxes are where the envelopes that have passed inspection and been sliced open go. They are taken to another room where the secrecy envelopes and ballots are separated before the ballots are scanned and counted."

K: "The last room is where the ballots are counted. First, they scan the ballots. It is also where people look at ballots that have been mis-marked to see what the voter intended, so that they can count all votes." 

E: "The thing that impressed me the most is how many things they have to do before they actually count the votes."
K: "I was impressed by the ballot sorter machine. I think having really smart machines helps them throughout the process."
A: "What really impressed me was how they sorted it and how efficient the process is. They went really far to make sure no one tampered with the votes."

After our visit, we read, researched, and discussed some of the main initiative measures, then held a mock election. Some of the initiatives seemed easy to decide at first, but after we read the arguments for and against, the issues seemed more complicated. We had some lively discussion, then voted by secret ballot. These students are ready to start voting NOW!

Overall, we decided that voting is not easy. It takes a long time (and some hard work and research) to truly understand the issues, but it's worth it to have your voice heard.

 Don't forget to vote Nov 6th!

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