Commentary: Clark County election process transparent, accountable, secure


A recent Letter to the Editor stated “Many citizens question past elections.” As the elected official responsible for conducting elections in Clark County, I urge anyone with questions or concerns regarding the elections administration process to contact me. My phone number is 564- 397-2078; my email address is Greg.Kimsey@ Clark.Wa.Gov.

Clark County’s election administration process is transparent, accountable and secure and produces results that accurately reflect voters’ decisions. The best test of the integrity of an election administration process is a manual recount. Over the past 25 years Clark County has had 21 recounts, and each of those confirmed the original election results.

Rigorous testing protocols, as well as numerous audits before, during and after every election ensure the integrity and reliability of the equipment. These processes are open to observation to provide the public a high level of confidence in election processes and outcomes.

Below are false statements contained in that letter, followed by an explanation:

False: “… there is no chain of custody (of mail ballots) …”

Explanation: A comprehensive chain of custody protocol is adhered to for every ballot retrieved from a ballot drop box or received from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and as ballots are processed, counted and stored. Detailed chain of custody records for each election are available to the public.

False: “… no thorough auditing (election count numbers don’t equal the number of ballots received) …”

Explanation: For every election, a reconciliation of the number of ballot envelopes received, the number of voters given credit for voting and the number of ballots tabulated is done. The results of these reconciliations are available to the public and may be viewed online for each election at

False: “The problem is that the system is proprietary, designed, manufactured and “tested” by one company called Haven InterCivic [sic].”

Explanation: All Washington voting systems are certified by an independent testing authority designated by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Each system is also inspected and tested by the Office of the Secretary of State prior to certification for use in Washington state. Each county performs an acceptance test of its voting systems before they can be used in an election. Additionally, before, during and after an election, county officials test the voting system for accuracy to confirm that voting systems are tabulating votes accurately.

False: “Federal law requires preserving election data for 22 months. Greg had it erased after six months or so.”

Explanation: All election data has been preserved as required by federal and state laws.

Below are other statements from that letter with my responses:

Statement: “He claims …. that no changes have been made to the software system.”

Response: Before each election a Hash Check Comparison test of the software on each voting system computer is conducted to ensure that the software being used for that election is exactly the same as the software that was certified by the federal and state government.

Statement: “Real testing of these ‘black box’ (voting system) machines would allow them to be opened up to look at the actual code, but Mr. Kimsey refuses to allow that.”

Response: Clark County’s voting system hardware and software is kept in a secured room with controlled access. Allowing access to the voting system could violate state law and the county’s contract with the voting system vendor and result in it being decertified. The cost to taxpayers to replace our voting system would be approximately $1.2 million.

Statement: “…no cameras on drop boxes…”

Response: Installing cameras at ballot drop boxes and the system to store and retrieve recorded video is estimated to cost taxpayers almost $1 million and requires a significant amount of staff time to properly respond to requests for the video footage. Fifty percent of voted ballots are delivered by voters to the USPS and no video cameras record this. Controls are in place to ensure that only a single valid ballot from a properly registered voter will be accepted for processing. Cameras on ballot drop boxes do not prevent fraudulent ballots from being deposited. The chain of custody protocol — security seals, two election employees often accompanied by Certified Election Observers — for retrieving ballots from ballot drop boxes would not be conducted differently if cameras were present. People respect the elections process, and over the past 20 years, there has not been a single incident of significant vandalism to Clark County’s ballot drop boxes.

Statement: “… inadequate signature verification …”

Response: For every ballot received, Elections Office employees, who have received training from the Washington State Patrol in the examination and comparison of handwriting, compare the voter’s signature on the ballot envelope with the voter’s signature in their voter registration record. Election Observers are invited to observe that process.

Statement: “He also refused to debate in person in 2022 virtually, the only opponent he’s had. What was he afraid of?”

Response: During the summer and fall of 2022 I participated in several events where the other candidate for county auditor and I had an opportunity to share our views and opinions with voters. There was one “debate” I declined to participate in after learning that the moderator and each of the organization’s board members had publicly endorsed my opponent. This caused me to believe it would not be an unbiased, neutral event and I declined the invitation.

Statement: “In 2020, citizens asked Greg Kimsey for a full forensic audit of the 2020 election. He refused and would only do it if it was court mandated. What was he afraid of?”

Response: Elections are administered pursuant to very comprehensive federal and state laws. When asked to conduct a “full forensic audit” my response was that neither federal or state law defines or authorizes a “full forensic audit” but that perhaps a Superior Court judge could be persuaded to issue an order to conduct a “full forensic audit” that described what actions were to be taken, with which, of course, we would promptly comply.

Statement: “Election observers wanted external verification of signatures and Greg refused.”

Response: State law requires verification of signatures on ballot envelopes be done by Elections Office employees who have received the required training from the Washington State Patrol.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this. Again, anyone with questions or concerns regarding the elections administration process is encouraged to contact me.


Greg Kimsey is the Clark County auditor.