Mail-in Ballot Security



I received my Mail-In Ballot a few days ago, probably you did as well. Basically, I was not concerned about the process until lately. There has been much alarm raised over the process of mail-in voting across this country, and the opportunity for the ballots to be stolen, lost, or destroyed, etc.

I completed and marked my ballot. I placed it in the security sleeve as directed and then placed that envelope into the return envelope.

Again, as directed, I signed and dated it.

Here are my concerns. You sign and date the envelope, (required). You then fold over the flap to seal the return envelope, with the notation marked, "Failure to sign and date the Voter's Declaration and mark one party declaration box may invalidate your ballot."

There are two declaration boxes, one in Blue (Democratic Party)and the other in Red (Republican Party), with my name and voter registration number all clearly shown to any one who handles the envelope. Why is this information so necessary to be seen?

Anyone seeing this envelope does not need to know what party I belong to, nor my name and voter registration. Anyone, person or organization that wishes to disrupt or cancel my vote just has to look at the envelope, notice WHICH COLOR I marked, disagree with my choice, and throw it in the trash and it never is counted. There is too much room for error in our county's voting process, and this will happen.

I plan on contacting the respective political organizations, the county Auditor, and my local congressional representatives of my concerns. I am not holding out much hope that anything will change. Let us get back to walk-in voting where you must prove that you are legally eligible to vote and you are assured that your voting preference is private.

I wanted to bring this process to your attention, not that you can change it at this time, however, I would be interested to know if any other of your readers have the same concerns.


~ Joseph Coorough, Olympia

The opinions expressed above are those of the writer and not necessarily those of  The JOLT's staff or board of directors.  You're free to post your response, below.  Otherwise, if you have something to say about a topic of interest to Thurston County residents, send it to us and we’ll most likely publish it. See the Contribute your news button at the top of every page. 


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  • Boatyarddog

    Gosh, Joe maybe voting by mail in Ballot is Not your thing.

    Works for Me.

    It is your choice, go Vote by Walk in.

    Monday, March 4 Report this

  • JulesJames

    PLEASE continue to speak up about this! The two "major" political parties agreed on this exposed identification requirement and -- technically -- they have a valid point. I could have caucused for the Republican party, then voted Democratic in the primary. Assuming the parties cross-check both lists, I'd be discovered as "voting" twice. But declared party affiliation is not who we are in Washington State. And -- taken to its natural conclusion of closed primaries -- effectively disenfranchises many, plus stifles upstart parties. But also please vote. And begrudgingly declare on the outside of the envelope for one party or the other. IF you don't, you vote doesn't count.

    Tuesday, March 5 Report this

  • SheriB

    I'm not sure why this is a concern. Take your ballot to a secure ballot box. There are lots of them.

    Tuesday, March 5 Report this

  • bobkat

    Neither of these (first 2) responses address the concern expressed in the Op-Ed. The question is WHY does one have to 'advertise' on the outside the party affiliation of the voter who mailed it in? I happen to completely agree with the writer. If your vote supposed to be 'secret' WHY must your party affiliation be required to be publicly displayed?

    Tuesday, March 5 Report this

  • KatAshe

    I presume this is to presort before opening the envelopes. Once a ballot is removed it would become anonymous.

    Tuesday, March 5 Report this

  • Freebird

    Perhaps I am misinformed, but I didn't know "presorting" was a thing.

    Tuesday, March 5 Report this

  • Yeti1981

    The best way to explain the party declaration on the outside of the ballot is that it is a sorting issue and not actually a party declaration. You have to realize that the presidential primary is a function of each separate party. So, you are essentially marking on the outside envelope which party's primary you intend to vote in. So, there are actually two elections on this ballot, and you only have the choice to vote in one. The mark on the outside of the envelope then tells the election workers, who are sorting the ballots, which primary you voted in. I'm not saying I like it, but it is a matter of convenience and efficiency for election workers who are also tasked with counting your votes as quickly as possible. In the end, anyone can choose to vote in whichever primary they want, or none at all. All you are doing is choosing that party's nominee.

    Tuesday, March 5 Report this

  • bobkat

    @ yeti1981, et al: (quote) ". . . .you are essentially marking on the outside envelope which party's primary you intend to vote in." What definition of 'secret,' when applied to your ballot, is not understandable?!?! Since all ballot envelopes must be opened anyway - simply have the boxes denoting the voter's choice of party placed at the top of the ballot form itself. There's no rational need for a mandatory requirement that the voter publicly declare their choice of political party.

    Tuesday, March 5 Report this

  • DStusser

    Editor's note -- for more information about this topic, see the related story, "FAQ: Washington’s March 12 presidential primary."

    Tuesday, March 5 Report this

  • Yeti1981

    @bobkat - I never said I agreed with their logic or the process. I'm simply stating that the reason you mark the party on the outside of the ballot is to tell election workers which party's primary election you plan to vote in. I don't disagree that convenience is a poor excuse for an invasion of personal privacy, but that's what we currently have and both major parties agreed to this process.

    Wednesday, March 6 Report this

  • Boatyarddog

    A voter Also is required to Sign the ballot... this is Also in "public" view.

    Maybe someone could Copy your signature as well.

    Let ponder that though.

    If deposited correctly it goes in a secure ballot box.

    If deposited in the regular mail, one could claim the postman knows my Party Affil.

    And, So What.

    Im a Proud Democrat, and really don't understand WHY others knowing this Would matter.

    Unless that person was Not Proud of their Party Affil.

    Or takes the bait that Mail in Ballots are Untrustable.

    Go to a Darn Voting Booth slide the curtain and Do What You Will.

    Its your Vote That Matters.

    You Can Be Proud of it!

    Vote Today!

    Wednesday, March 6 Report this

  • Yeti1981

    @Boatyarddog - folks all feel differently about the nuances of voting and, honestly, they don't have to explain themselves to anyone else. Not everyone is comfortable with displaying their choice of party on the outside of the ballot. And they have as much of a right to be heard as someone who doesn't have the uncomfortableness around voting. In fact, in a state where you may be the minority politically, it could also be seen as voter suppression. Unfortunately, there are instances where people are unintentionally shamed out of voting due to public sentiment. Our right to vote is sacred, and we should treat it as such. Legal precedent across the country often favors protecting the minority. So, we should be cognizant of that. It's easy to say "I'm a proud Democrat" in a place where the overwhelming majority shares your opinion. It's a far more delicate situation living and voting in opposition territory. I don't claim any party, but I can understand the plight of the minority on a ton of issues.

    Thursday, March 7 Report this

  • FordPrefect


    You are completely correct. I was also shocked to be marking my choices on the outside of the ballot envelope. What would be novel is a tracking number that one could look up like a package from UPS that would show where a ballot was in the process and how it was counted.

    Best not to react to our friend here… Boatyard’s posts are often complete nonsense and it’s a waste of time to try to sort out his intent.



    Thursday, March 7 Report this

  • TurdFerguson

    Two things: OP starts their letter with "There has much alarm has been raised over the process of mail-in voting..." Alarm raised by who for what? There is no evidence of wide spread voter fraud in the US. Period.

    Second, we have this: Ballot Status Tool

    You can check the status of your ballot in TC by doing this:

    Log into using your name and birthdate and click on "ballot status."

    Depending on where your ballot is in the process, you will see one of the following messages: Sent, Received, Accepted, Challenged.

    Be informed, listen, think. That is all.

    Thursday, March 7 Report this

  • FordPrefect

    Good info, thanks Burt! Well aware of the ballot status tool available on our county website. To assuage the concerns of folks regarding ballot security, I think it could be improved in an important way.

    When it’s counted make it possible to see HOW the ballot was counted (e.g. for which candidate or action). That way people could see their vote go all the way to the end result.

    “The pen is mightier” for 600.

    Thursday, March 7 Report this

  • Boatyarddog

    Hey Joe,

    Read more here in this article

    in the jolt or on the Sec.of State website about Why your Party affil. Is used in the Primary.

    By Donna Gordon Blankinship /

    Editor's Note: While Crosscut's story is complete, you might also want to read the Washington Secretary of State's FAQ, here.

    Also, note the negative tone as well comments by FordPrefect.

    This article and Others where people that love Trees are Treehuggers, or those bothered by fumes at the County airport are "emotional".

    Yeti and D. Stusser

    Had the right answer here.

    Friday, March 8 Report this

  • ejpoleii

    Solution. Don't fund the PRIVATE party primaries using tax funds. Let the damn Democans and Republicrats fund the own party processes. A plague on BOTH their houses.

    Saturday, May 11 Report this