‘A treasured tradition has died’: Election night tally rally canceled

Posted 11/6/19

Lovers of the democratic process mourned the end of Jefferson County’s election result announcement ceremony, killed off by the same-day registration law that was enacted in Washington June 30.

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‘A treasured tradition has died’: Election night tally rally canceled

Posted

Lovers of the democratic process mourned the end of Jefferson County’s election result announcement ceremony, killed off by the same-day registration law that was enacted in Washington June 30.

The law allows eligible citizens the ability to register to vote in person at the county auditor’s office on election day up until polls close at 8 p.m. Anyone still in line at 8 p.m., can still register and vote.

Because of that, Jefferson County auditor Rose Ann Caroll decided to nix the traditional election results announcement ceremony that typically happened when polls closed at 8 p.m.

Election results are announced via the Internet instead. Initial results are uploaded to the Secretary of State’s website right after 8 p.m.

“This is not one on a whim,” Caroll said during the county commissioners meeting on Nov. 4. “Allowing people to gather and talk about the election while people may still be voting is inappropriate.”

Because anyone in line at 8 p.m. will still have the opportunity to vote, an announcement ceremony—a typically loud and boisterous affair where the initial results are announced and opponents shake hands—would impede those citizens’ rights to vote.

“A treasured tradition has died and we mourn its passing,” said Bruce Cowan, a Jefferson County Democrat, who spoke during the public comment period of the commissioners meeting, hoping for the tradition to one day continue on. “It was important. It did something for our community. As we gathered we talked with each other, had to face each other at the end of a long season of trying to win support for a ballot measure or candidate. Everyone had to come together in one place and face each other in one room … The press was there to get immediate reactions from people.”

But according to county administrator Philip Morley, the county does not have the facilities to host a ceremony out of earshot of fellow voters still in line.

“If you’re in line at 8 o’clock, you may not have finished voting and you may take another 45 minutes to do so,” Morley said. “This building is just not built for sound separation.”

That isn’t to say that the announcement ceremony will be gone forever, he said. Clallam County is continuing to have an announcement ceremony. Jefferson County may try to find a way to do so in the future.

“I respect the judgement of the county auditor of protecting the rights of the individual who might be a late voter,” Morley said. “But I certainly concur that we as a society are losing a sense of common institutions and it furthers our divides and weakens those bonds that hold us together as a society and it’s a sad thing.”

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