Making Elections Accessible for All
I have spent the last nearly 20 years working on making sure that elections are accessible to all eligible citizens. As Deputy Secretary of State in Oregon, I implemented vote-by-mail, ushering in a new system of convenience for voters that Washingtonians now enjoy too. As Deputy Director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program I worked to make elections accessible to Service members, their families and citizens living overseas.
The 2018 Legislature made great strides in making our elections open to all who qualify. They enacted same-day registration, automatic registration for those citizens that interact with state agencies, opened preregistration to 16- and 17-year olds, and enacted the Washington Voting Rights Act, ensuring elected city governments reflect the diversity of their neighborhoods.
As Mason County Auditor, I will fight to keep Washington on the forefront of making our elections accessible to all eligible citizens.
"As Mason County Auditor, I will fight to keep Washington on the forefront of making our elections accessible to all eligible citizens."
I will use the most advanced, most secure electronic methods to make our elections available to voters with disabilities. Vote-by-mail is a great convenience for most voters, but for voters with visual disabilities, it may be impossible to mark with a pen on paper with privacy and independence. Screen readers are now built into most computers and smartphones that allow people with visual disabilities to hear what’s on the screen. I will make sure that ballots formatted for people with vision issues are available to all that need them to allow them to vote privately and independently.
Service members are based all over the world and in some very challenging circumstances. Submariners and soldiers at forward operating bases may not get mail for many weeks at a time. But most have access to email and other electronic communication 24/7. For some a ballot by email may be the only way they have to help elect their Commander in Chief.
When our daughter Katie was in college, she spent a semester studying abroad in Madagascar, living in a village that has no working postal system. She could not vote-by-mail because there was no mail, but the village did have internet service so she could have voted an emailed ballot. I will make sure that Service members, their families and citizens living overseas can receive their ballot electronically and mark it and return it, if they want to.
I will make sure that everything on the Auditor’s website is compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, so that it is accessible by residents regardless of disability.
I will be an advocate for taking the Washington way of making elections accessible to all around the country. We have a great story to tell about how to make elections work for voters and I will carry that message on behalf of Mason County.