Reed says ballot ruling is needed

Secretary of State Sam Reed’s office disputes a lawsuit that questions how secure voters’ secret selections are in Washington.

However, Reed, a third-term Republican who oversees state elections, said he sees benefit in the lawsuit, which takes his office to task over the ballot-tracking devices used by many of the state’s 39 counties. In response to an e-mail, he wrote that there is a benefit if a court weighs in on whether voter privacy could be violated by ballot trackers as they are used today.

“Yes. Ever since Florida nationally and the gubernatorial recount in this state, the trust and confidence of the voters is a very serious concern,” he wrote. “This would resolve some of those concerns.”

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in the state Supreme Court, is aimed at blocking the use of bar codes on election ballots because they could be used to identify a voter’s choices. It is pending in the high court; justices haven’t said whether they will review the case. The suit builds on a previous claim pending against San Juan County.

Knoll Lowney, the Seattle attorney and Democrat who filed the lawsuit, said his suit isn’t politically motivated, despite critics’ claims to the contrary. Lowney is an attorney who has filed suits in the past against targets such as Tim Eyman’s initiatives, U.S. Senate candidate Mike McGavick and the Building Industry Association of Washington.

Lowney previously estimated that one-third of eligible voters are affected in Washington, but Reed’s elections chief has denied that there is any risk.

Brad Shannon: 360-753-1688