ELECTIONS AND VOTER REGISTRATION
The auditor is responsible for administering all federal, state, county, municipal and special purpose district elections. In addition to the annual primary and general election, as many as four special elections are conducted each year from February through May.
As part of the election process, the auditor establishes polling sites, prepares ballots and voting devices, programs and tests ballot tabulation systems, provides for public notices, and recruits, trains and assigns precinct election workers. The auditor also provides for the preparation and mailing of absentee ballots to any voter upon request. Some counties have elected to conduct elections entirely by mail.
The auditor is responsible for tabulation of ballots and publication of official election returns. The auditor chairs the county canvassing board, which also includes the prosecuting attorney and the chair of the county legislative authority. This board determines the status of provisional ballots and certifies official election returns, which are then transmitted to the Secretary of State.
As chief registrar of voters, each auditor maintains voter registration records that are sent to the statewide voter registration database at the Secretary of State’s office. Voter registrations received through the motor voter program, by mail or in person are all processed by the auditor or by the Secretary of State and added to the statewide voter registration database. Name and address changes, deletions due to death or voting inactivity, as defined in statute, also become part of the database. Maintenance of jurisdictional boundary lines and assignment of voters to their appropriate congressional, legislative and special purpose districts fall under the responsibility of the county auditor. The auditor works cooperatively with the census officials to define precinct boundary lines and to assist with redistricting efforts by special districts.
Four counties are required by the federal Voting Rights Act to provide bilingual election information and ballots. King County must provide these materials in both English and Chinese, and Adams, Franklin and Yakima counties must provide ballots and election information in English and Spanish.
As the county recorder, the auditor's duties include maintaining, in perpetuity, the county's permanent, historic records. Real property records such as deeds, real estate, contracts and liens are presented to the auditor to be placed in the official public record to serve as an official notice to all interested parties. The date, time of receipt and a unique auditor's file number are assigned to each document presented. An index is created and an image of the document is captured and preserved so that present and future generations may access and retrieve each recorded document. Documents recorded by auditors include surveys, plats, veterans' discharge papers, name changes and oaths of office for county officials. The auditor issues and retains permanent copies of marriage licenses and provides a record to the Department of Health.
Some auditors continue to serve as clerk of the board for the county legislative authority, responsible for keeping a complete record of the proceedings of each meeting held. In most counties, the auditor maintains a repository for the official proceedings of the county legislative authority meetings and other official historic information for the county. In addition, some auditors provide passport services.
In noncharter counties, the auditor maintains a central accounting system for all county government. This may entail the control and issuance of disbursements, financial accounting and reporting, grant accounting, payroll and fixed asset inventory. Additionally, some auditors also act as the county budget director. The internal audit duties may also fall under the direction of the county auditor. In charter counties, other departments often perform the financial service duties. In King County, where the counterpart to the auditor is called the Director of Records, Elections and Licensing Services, the director oversees the superintendents of each of these divisions. The auditor is a member of the county finance committee along with the treasurer and the chair of the legislative authority.
As agents for the Washington State Department of Licensing, the county auditor and the subagents they appoint are responsible for the issuance of vehicle and vessel licenses and titles. This encompasses the processing of a wide variety of titles and registrations, as well as the collection of license fees and vehicle excise taxes, and issuing license plates and renewal tabs. The auditor may also act as an agent for the Department of Revenue in collecting sales tax when transfers of ownership for vehicles and vessels are processed.
Varying from county to county the auditor may issue a variety of other licenses for dance halls, hobby kennels, taxi drivers and companies, second hand dealers, process servers, grooming parlors, pet shops, pawnbrokers, massage parlors, adult entertainment, game tables, public events and assemblies, parades and fun runs on county property, boating exhibitions, public bathhouses, hot tubs, auctioneers, business licenses, carnivals, antiques, junk/salvage, music machines, game tables, amusement machines, coin operators, garage sales, flea markets, circuses, gun dealers, outdoor public music festivals, solicitors, photo fees, rental agencies, wrecking yards, and dog and cat