Thursday, October 23, 2008

McCarthy's name didn't belong on survey

Anonymous. The News Tribune. Tacoma, Wash.: Oct 23, 2008. pg. B.6
Full Text (366 words)
(Copyright (c) 2008 The News Tribune)

Election officials can't look like they have their thumbs on the scale, especially when they are on the ballot.

Pat McCarthy knows that. So what was the Pierce County auditor thinking when she signed her name on a voter survey stuffed into the envelopes bearing mail ballots that will decide her bid for Pierce County executive?

The answer, we hope, was that she wasn't thinking.

The survey registers somewhere between "What's the big deal?" and "How dare she!" on the outrage meter. Some
voters for whom the Pierce County executive race is somewhat of an afterthought in this presidential election year - might not even make the connection.

The intent -to gauge voter response to the county's new ranked choice system -is commendable. But the execution was awful. McCarthy should have been more careful in a year when she was running for election.

Sure, the Secretary of State's office's says McCarthy has done nothing wrong legally. She probably hasn't. But a more telling question is, what would Sam do?

Secretary of State Sam Reed, known for his scrupulous administration of elections, is extra-cautious about using the trappings of his office to get his name before voters. A ballot stuffer that Reed's office put out to explain August's Top Two
primary included no names from the Secretary of State's office.

McCarthy's survey is certainly not the only case of Pierce County executive candidates using public funds to boost their candidacies. To a certain extent, such publicity is a perk of elected office. But coming this close to the election, her case is the most troubling.

We give McCarthy the benefit of the doubt - not because we endorsed her as the second best candidate in the bunch last Sunday, but because we've watched her the past six years.

Her administration of the auditor's office has been above board, professional and customer service oriented. The survey appears to be largely patterned after a similar voter poll she conducted in 2004 when the state introduced the pick-a-party primary.

But this is a blemish on her record. The ballot envelope is sacred. The county's chief elections official should know that more than anyone.

Credit: The News Tribune


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