Government officials should encourage public involvement whenever they get the chance.
However, that’s not what happens when it comes to voting for board members of the Kennewick Irrigation District.
The election is typically low-key and voting is so inconvenient, it’s a wonder anyone participates.
That needs to change.
There are two candidates running for one board position in the Dec. 12 election, but customers who want to weigh in on the race will have to vote in person from 1 to 8 p.m. at the KID office at 2015 S. Ely St. in Kennewick.
For those who can’t physically make it there to vote, absentee ballots can be requested online at kid.org/election.
But it is getting so close to the election that, to be safe, it would be better to request a ballot in person at the KID office during winter business hours, which are 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday. Otherwise, you might not get it in the mail in time to fill it out and return it by the Tuesday deadline.
This archaic process is unfortunately set by state law, so it isn’t an easy fix.
But it is time our state legislators changed the restrictions surrounding KID Board elections.
It is tough enough to get people to vote in primary and general elections when ballots are sent to their homes. Forcing them to drive to Ely Street — or to think weeks ahead and request an absentee ballot in November — is expecting a lot.
Most people this time of year have their minds set on Christmas gifts, travel plans and holiday parties. Only the most civic-minded citizens are likely to give the KID election a serious thought.
For those who want to be engaged in the process (and we applaud you), a story on the two candidates running for Position 2 was published in print Nov. 17 and can be found online on the Tri-City Herald website.
Kennewick City Councilman John Trumbo and retired engineer Raman Venkata of Richland are vying for the seat now being held by Jim Holmes, who did not file for the election.
The KID Board is an important governing body, and the election of its members should be of paramount interest to its ratepayers. But the voting process is so difficult, only the most devoted KID customer typically will participate.
We encourage people to cast a ballot Tuesday if they can, and in the meantime, our local legislators should push for an update to state law so KID Board elections can be made more convenient.
And while we are on the topic of public engagement, we suggest that those Mid-Columbia governing bodies that don’t record and broadcast public meetings find a way to make that happen.
City council meetings in Richland and Pasco are recorded and made available so citizens who can’t attend can watch the proceedings. We understand there is a cost to this, but the Kennewick City Council should consider following suit, as well as school boards and county commissions.
It provides an important way for the public to see elected officials in action, and the more transparency we have in local government, the better.