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Courthouse Journal

The Courthouse Journal is the official newsletter of the Washington Association of County Officials. Along with a newsletter to members, WACO also hosts the Courthouse Journal blog.

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Aug 06

How Washington County Auditors Successfully Adjusted for the August 4th Primary

Posted on August 6, 2020 at 2:51 PM by Melanie Terry

In the age of COVID-19 Washington County officials and their offices have taken immense measures to make sure the public they serve remain safe, while still effectively conducting official business. Many services ranging from court proceedings to tax exemptions have been converted to a virtual or remote option, which allows county officials’ staff to still serve the public, while also keeping them healthy and safe.  

 

This transition can be seen in all the county offices but has been most recently demonstrated by Washington County Auditors, who conducted their first statewide Primary amid a global pandemic. Prior to the August Primary, many county auditors already converting numerous services to a remote option. For example, the Peirce County Auditor’s Office now offers car tab renewal, marriage licensing, and recording via telephone. However, a statewide primary brings a new set of challenges, for example: social distancing, mask and gloves for staff, combating misinformation and adjusting in-person services, all needed to be considered. 

 

Auditors around the state were ready to rise to those challengesThurston County Auditor Mary Hall found remote locations to serve voters who needed to register and pick-up ballots via a “drive-through” service. Thurston County residents were able to receive the services they needed while never leaving the comfort of their car. In a statement to King 5 News Auditor Mary Hall stated, “We had to start thinking outside of the box” 

 

Auditors statewide also thought “outside of the box”. Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton was able to utilize their very large facility to spread election staff out by plexiglass barriers. Staff members also wore masks and were subject to temperature checks as they sorted through ballots. Spokane County residents waited in their cars until it was their time to access the building.  

 

The processes used during the August 4th Primary could be an indicator of how things will run in the November General Election. Washington County Auditors will be well prepared. In a statement to the Spokesman Review, Whitman County Auditor Sandy Jamison reported “I am running my primary election process how I envision running the general election”, as she believed the same challenges would be present in the fall.  

 

About the County Auditor Position: 

 

The county auditor's duties and responsibilities are diverse and wide-ranging. In most counties the auditor performs four major functions: ex-officio supervisor of elections and voter registration, recording and maintenance of permanent county records, licensing of vehicles and vessels and financial services. 

 

For More information about the County Auditor position, and to learn more about all county officials, click here.