by Brian Zylstra | July 10th, 2013
From left: State Elections Director Lori Augino, Island County Auditor Sheilah Crider, Dodie Hanby (sitting) and Loann Gulick. Hanby and Gulick are longtime county elections employees.
When State Elections Director Lori Augino told Island County Auditor Sheilah Crider that she was stopping by the Auditor’s Office in Coupeville for a test of the county’s elections system, Augino only hinted to Crider that she was also hand-delivering something to her.
It turns out, that “something” was a new award given by the Elections Division. Crider was beaming as Augino presented her Tuesday afternoon with the Champion for Voters with Disabilities Award.
“In the past year, Sheilah not only went above and beyond to increase access and break down barriers for voters with disabilities in Island County, she also spearheaded and coordinated a multicounty initiative with San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom counties. That meant working with other elected auditors, managing a federal grant, and navigating the red tape, and working closely with our staff. All of her hard work and commitment translated into very tangible outcomes.”
Crider said she spearheaded the multicounty initiative because she wanted to ensure that her “wounded warriors” returning to Whidbey Island could register and vote independently.
Thanks to Crider’s leadership and hard work on the project, Augino said, the four counties now have relationships with different organizations, nonprofits, advocacy groups, community leaders and chambers of commerce. In fact, food banks and homeless shelters now ask clients if they would like to register to vote.
The project also has resulted in elections staff and temporary staff in the four counties receiving accessible training and binders full of resources to help them improve their services for people with disabilities. In addition, the counties made improvements to their elections websites.
Secretary of State Kim Wyman, herself a former Thurston County Auditor, joined in congratulating Crider for her inspirational leadership and for working with counties and partners in the region in a collaborative manner.
“This is truly a great best-practices story,” Wyman said.