The ballot bar code lawsuit, White v. Reed, is now eight years old and does not appear to be ending any time soon. The lawsuit claims that bar codes on the ballot envelope and on the ballot itself violate the Washington law that states, “No paper ballot or ballot card may be marked in any way that would permit the identification of the person who voted that ballot.” Multiple motions have been filed, briefed and argued, but the only clear result is that San Juan County is likely to save money by abandoning the Mail-in Ballot Tracking system previously used here. County Auditor Milene Henley said that after Superior Court Judge Don Eaton decided that the tracking system violated a state law that requires any voting system to obtain federal certification, she decided not to appeal that decision, but instead to abandon the MIBT system, even though Henley insists that the MIBT system did not in any way compromise ballot secrecy.
Not using the MIBT system “would require more staff hours and more expense, so we decided to contract with K&H Printing in Everett to print, assemble and mail the ballots, which may very well save money for the county.”
But will abandoning the MIBT system ensure that voting secrecy will be maintained?
“No,” according to lead plaintiff Tim White and his attorney, Seattle attorney Knoll Lowney. “Yes,” says Henley and her attorney, County Prosecutor Randy Gaylord, and Secretary of State Kim Wyman and her attorney, Assistant Attorney General Anne Egeler.