Fejeran: Election accountability

ERIC FEJERAN, County auditor candidate (prefers Democratic Party)

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The auditor’s office requires big changes in order to make sure that every eligible voter has an equal voice.

It is not news to most people that rural county governments, Whitman County included, run on a very tight budget. This is no excuse for the previous shortcomings that the community has experienced coming from the auditor’s office. Major audit findings, ballots sent to the wrong address and continually reduced office hours, the Whitman County community deserves more from their tax dollars.

In addition, many members of the community might not know that the auditor is responsible for county elections as well.

The role of the county auditor is quintessential to ensuring that elections are carried out in an effective, non-bias and transparent process.

Whitman County is a very unique community. We have many generations of families who have called Palouse home, a large transient student population and everyone in between. The task of keeping track of every eligible voter is integral to a functional democracy.

When discussing what specific improvements can be made, I believe more can be done with voter registration of the students and new residents when they move to Whitman County.

Many students are first time voters and an on-site ballot service center would not only be informational, but would help the county better manage provisional ballots.

A previous state audit recommended that a third ballot service center be set up on the university campus, but has failed to be implemented. This additional ballot center will allow those on campus access to a local site to ask questions pertaining to the election process.

Currently, there are only two ballot service centers in Whitman County, one in Pullman City Hall and another in the Elections Office in Colfax.

I hear these issues every year from students and members of the community and they are important to me. As chair of the local Democrats, I listen and learn of the frustration of new voters and community members.

One of the main issues I hear time and time again is not being able to find basic information such as how to change your address, what voting precinct or ward do I live in or who is my representative.

Much of this frustration, again, stems from not having easily obtainable information.

The current Auditor’s website, much like all of the Whitman County government pages, is a relic from 2007 and lacks basic information such as visual map of voting districts.

This information should be accessible and up to date for each and every resident of Whitman County, online and at the office.

There is no excuse for this lack of service, and the auditor’s office needs to work with the county to update and organize its website with important information such as voting maps and visible portals to quickly change or update your voter registration.

We are tired of reading of election mishaps every single year coming from the Whitman County Auditor’s Office.

If the next Whitman County Auditor goes above and beyond in providing transparency and educational outreach it will be a step in the right direction.

I look forward to more discussion on local issues, and can promise you that election integrity and outreach will continue to be an important issue on the campaign trail.