DEAR EDITOR: Regarding last week's Sound Bite on poll-worker training, it is not clear which Stefan Sharkansky to believe.
In his August 24 Sound Politics posting, the blogger is quite complimentary of our training staff ("knowledgeable... presenting a lot of detail efficiently... a good investment"). But these observations were left out of the Stranger column [Sound Bite: Confidence Man, Sept 1].
Yes, executive staff as well as staff from other divisions of county government have been asked to help elections implement the many important changes called for by oversight committees, the county council, the state legislature, and voters. These are qualified professionals helping us meet public expectations under a very tight timeline.
At the forefront of this effort we are working hard to train a record 4,100 poll workers to make sure things go well on Election Day. Like the author in his earlier postings, we too have been impressed with our trainers, receiving many a "well done" from class participants (including a member of the Citizen's Election Oversight Committee) for their enthusiasm, energy, and attention to detail.
Regarding challenged ballots: Our trainers tell our poll workers that a challenge should be based on personal knowledge that an individual is not a legal voter. We also state that a voter who shows identification and is registered in the poll book should receive a ballot. These guidelines are consistent with state law and with training in other counties.
We instruct our classes that a challenge is a very rare but serious matter that will require a poll worker's signed statement. We tell the trainees that a challenged ballot is serious, because it is. By law, the burden to prove that an individual is not an eligible registered voter is on the challenger.
It is true that our training sessions focus on the details of ensuring that the hundreds of thousands of legitimate voters who show up to vote on Election Day are able to cast their ballots with the highest level of confidence; that the ballots will be counted accurately and transparently.
That is job one, and we look forward to having the author and thousands more helping us reach that goal on Election Day.
Director, King County Records, Elections, and Licensing ServicesHUMP THE SHARK
DEAR EDITOR: Kudos to Stefan Sharkansky for using his party's championing of pseudo-science, anti-intellectualism, and religious hucksterism as a catalyst for a reasoned and much-needed debate about our education system [Sound Bite: Redesign, Aug 25].
Alfredo TryferisDISENCHANTED READER
TO THE EDITOR: Why so hard on the Fun Forest at Seattle Center? ["Disenchanted Forest," Megan Seling, Aug 25]. There are plenty of people milling around on the weekends and it gets a festive feeling. I worked on and with the rides for years and it was a lot of fun and not nearly the sad and desolate job that you made it out to be. I still know a lot of the employees that work there and they don't feel anywhere near as depressed as you make them out to be while at work. It's true that there are slow weekdays when not too much is going on and there will be few customers, but that's true if you go to a lot of places such as GameWorks, any movie theater, or other entertainment venue in the middle of the day during the week.
STRANGER: I went on the Argosy Party Cruise your publication helped sponsor last night. I just wanted to say it SUCKED! Last time I do that again. Music was bad, half-hour-long lines to get beer, people were rude, and the boat only went out for an hour and a half instead of the three hours we were promised. You guys do this thing every year, right? I really hope next year is going to better.
JENNIFER MAERZ RESPONDS: I agree that elements of the booze cruise sucked, but before you take The Stranger to task, here are the facts: The promoters of the event, Mechanican Planet Productions, rented the Argosy boat and its staff for a three-hour cruise. That puts the responsibility for making sure there are enough bartenders on Argosy (and there definitely were not—waiting in line for a half hour for a drink, especially when you only have three hours for an event, is unacceptable). Argosy was contracted to sail the boat for three hours. They returned to shore after 90 minutes. Battleship promoters say that Argosy's staff told them they were returning to shore to drop off a drunken girl who was too sick to stay on the boat, but that they would return to the water once she was off the boat. After docking, the staff told the promoters that the crowd was too drunken and too rowdy to go back out. So the Argosy boat stayed docked—although the staff allowed the bars to stay open. The promoters have said they will not work with Argosy in the future and are considering legal action against the company.