Seldom would I speak well about anything behind the iron curtain of political reason, but the Benton County Election Commission has demonstrated that it has a far better understanding of the broader role of elections than does the Washington County Election Commission. Benton County Election Commission Chairman Bill Williams (D) didn't want to be bothered with informing the public or the media, saying that it would take too much time to give the public updated reports and that it would create an increased risk of error, but it's not like Benton County has any sterling record for accuracy. Those are the same excuses that the Washington County Commission offers for its policy of secrecy and keeping the information from the public until after most of them give up and go to bed around midnight.
Commissioners Bob Balfe (R) and E.J. Williams (D) stood up for the public interest and the people of Benton County. As Balfe explained, “It’s an efficiency and a timeliness issue. One of the foundations of our democracy is the right of the people to change their government. That’s something that has set us apart from the very beginning. We have to balance cost and efficiency with public confidence in the voting process. I think we should put in a process to have results coming out on an interim basis.”
The early voting total and overseas and absentee ballots totals will be reported as soon as possible after the polls close at 7:30 p.m. An updated report will be issued around 9:30 p.m., and a third update will be made around 11 p.m. Later, they will give the final uncertified vote totals as soon as they are complete, about the time that Washington County voters finally get some news about how their candidates fared on election day.
There is no reason why the Washington County Election Commission should shroud the process in secrecy. Local party officials should demand that their appointed members commit to keeping the public better informed about the results. Those are our votes, not the employees whose job it is to count and report them for us. Know what I mean, Chad?