The County Auditor’s duties and responsibilities are diverse and wide-ranging. In most counties the Auditor performs four major functions: ex-officio supervisor of elections and voter registration, recording and maintenance of permanent county records, licensing of vehicles and vessels and financial services.
Elections and Voter Registration
The Auditor is responsible for administering all federal, state, county, city/town or school, hospital, fire, cemetery, water, sewer, port, park and recreation and public utility district elections. In addition to the annual primary and general election, there can also be two special elections in February and April.
Washington State is completely a “Vote by Mail” State. All ballots are now mailed to voters. There is much that goes into preparing and running an election.
As part of the election process, the Auditor:
- accepts local declarations of candidacy and resolutions, prepares ballots for printing and mailing, programs and tests voting and ballot tabulating systems and provides for public notices;
- is responsible for tabulation of ballots and publication of official election returns;
- chairs the county canvassing board,whose purpose is to verify the results from the ballots received, which also includes the prosecuting attorney and the chair of the County Legislative Authority and;
- is responsible for apportioning to state, city, county, town and districts their share of election expenses.
The Auditor, as supervisor of elections, is the chief registrar of voters within the county. It is the Auditor’s responsibility to close voter registration in accordance with state law, prior to each election, and to publish requisite legal notice of such impending closures.
Each county is required to have at least two Certified Election Administrators on staff. In order to be initially certified, staff must attend a two day orientation class and pass a written exam. Election Administrators must have 40 hours of additional education and must have two years of service in an elections office during the three year period immediately prior to the request for initial certification.
Once certified, Election Administrators must maintain their certification with 40 hours of continuing education every two years. For Assistant Election Administrators, only six hours of continuing education is required.
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 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 current and future generations may access and retrieve each recorded document. Documents recorded by auditors include surveys, plats, veterans’ discharge papers and name changes. 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 most non-charter counties, the auditor maintains the central accounting system for all county government. Duties may entail the control and issuance of disbursements, financial accounting and reporting, grant accounting, payroll and fixed asset inventory. The auditor is also responsible for the preparation and submission of the county’s annual report to the State Auditor.
By statute, 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 their contracted subagents are responsible for the issuance of vehicle and vessel licenses and titles. Licensing 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 also acts as an agent for the Department of Revenue in collecting sales tax when transfers of ownership for vehicles and vessels are processed.
(Information taken from the Washington Association of County Officials website)