Independents added as election observers

The head of elections for Pierce County has put out a call for independent election observers who don’t consider themselves Democrats or Republicans.

While state law requires volunteers from the two major political parties to serve as observers of ballot processing, the handling of ballot dropboxes and post-election audits, Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson wants to expand the role so that citizens without political affiliation are “afforded the same opportunities. We need citizens of every political stripe to be engaged.”

Anderson said the county has a steady flow of Democratic and Republican observers, but “we must recognize that a substantial and growing percentage of voters don’t affiliate with either of the two major political parties. To maintain confidence in election accuracy and integrity, we must have citizens independently observe election activities.”

The League of Women Voters of Tacoma-Pierce County, like political parties that recruit within their ranks, will recruit, appoint and schedule independent observers in coordination with the auditor’s office, which conducts the county’s elections.

“Providing volunteers for independent oversight of elections is perfectly aligned with the League’s mission. I hope that this model will be replicated in other counties,” said Cynthia Stewart, president of the Tacoma-Pierce County League of Women Voters.

Independents who want to be an observer can contact Sharon Wilhelm, in care of the League of Women Voters, at

The contacts for prospective observers from the major political parties are Julian Wheeler for Democrats at, and Chris Johnson for Republicans at 253-722-5353 or

Anderson said election observers must be Pierce County registered voters and complete one two-hour training before beginning their duties. Upcoming training dates are July 10 from 1 to 3 p.m. and July 12 from 10 a.m. to 12.