By Meg Olson
Community members have been working with the county auditor to place a ballot collection box in Point Roberts, giving voters an alternative to submitting their completed ballots by mail.
Aside from eliminating the need to buy a postage stamp, which this year costs 68 cents, this would allow voters to cast their ballots on election day without fear of not being postmarked in time to be counted. “Organizers hope to create a positive civic event, reminiscent of the old days when most people voted on election day at their local precinct,” said Mark Robbins.
Accordingly, the Whatcom County Auditor will provide an official ballot collection box, to be placed in the Gulf Road community center Tuesday, November 8 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Volunteers will be deputized by the auditor to assure proper supervision and chain of custody of the ballots, both during voting hours and in transit to Bellingham after the polls close. The auditor will insure that all necessary arrangements and understandings are in place with Canadian and U.S. border services to allow smooth passage.
Robbins said past requests of the previous auditor to have a collection box installed in Point Roberts, as is done in other communities around the county, were turned down due to concerns about integrity of the ballots in transit through Canada. However, this year, community member Shelley Damewood found the current auditor, Debbie Adelstein, much more responsive and eager to find ways to make it work.
For this year’s election, the official collection box will be available only on election day, November 8, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., in the community center. Damewood and Robbins have enlisted a number of community volunteers to assist in the effort. They plan to offer coffee, snacks and “I voted” stickers to voters who bring in their completed ballots. After 8 p.m., the public is welcome to bring more snacks and watch live election coverage in the community center.
Voters who still intend to mail their ballot should note that, according to the local post master, they should be certain to drop off the ballot before 2:15 p.m. on the day of the election to ensure it is post-marked November 8. In addition, due to the ballot being over-sized, the envelope requires 68 cents’ worth of postage. However, the county auditor said no ballots would be refused for insufficient postage.
The county auditor office mailed out ballots to registered voters on October 19. The deadline for in-person registration at the county courthouse in Bellingham at 311 Grand Avenue is October 31.