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Letters for the week of August 15, 2018

Farmworker March for Dignity

On Sun., Aug. 5, an historic Farmworker March for Dignity took place along the rural farm roads from Lynden to Sumas.
Participants walked 15 miles over 10 hours, and had plenty of time to reflect on the long, hot, exhausting days endured by farmworkers day after day in order to bring food to our tables.
The several hundred participants chose to spend their Sunday to march all day in the heat in solidarity with some of the hardest-working and lowest-paid workers in our country.
How ironic, then, that there were some members of our local community who chose to use their voices to castigate the marchers by yelling “get a job!” from the air-conditioned cabs of their shiny new black pickup trucks (probably not on their own way to work, on a Sunday). I wonder if they thought to yell the same slur to the crowd recreating at the go-kart race track we passed along the way.
What irony for people who live in a farming community to yell “get a job” to a crowd of hard-working farmworkers and their allies.
Thank you to all of the people who honked and waved and walked out of their front doors to join us in solidarity. I want to challenge the handful of rude passersby to consider what they do on their own days off to help farmworkers feel appreciated, welcome and safe here in Whatcom County.

—Krista Rome, Everson

Confidence in elections

On Thursday of primary election week, we watched two Whatcom County election staff members count ballots by hand. They were tallying partial results for a local race as contained in six large, randomly selected ballot batches. These were paper ballots—physical evidence of voter choice. Verifiable and recountable.
Washington state made the right choice back when many other states were adopting black-box, hackable electronic voting devices.
Each ballot set was counted separately by both staff, supervised by County Auditor Debbie Adelstein and witnessed by volunteer observers. The two hand counts for each ballot set were compared first to each other, then to the machine tabulator totals for each set. The latter had been tallied previously and were unknown to the staff who did the hand count. All the counts of the six selected batches, totaling 1,174 ballots, matched.
Why does this matter? Conducting this random comparison of hand counts to machine tallies is a striking example of investment in election integrity. And the encouragement of citizens to be part of that process.
The Whatcom Citizens Election Advisory Committee helped select our recently updated election equipment. Our county was the first in Washington state to adopt the above hand count as standard operating procedure in every election. We have now been doing this since 2007.
We attest that Whatcom County is an excellent county for elections in an excellent state for elections. All of us can and should cast our votes in the knowledge that they will be counted accurately.

—Marian Beddill, Jim Fox, Myra Ramos, 
Whatcom County

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