Apparently, our good friend Stefan wants King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng to prosecute homeless people who listed PO boxes on their voter registration forms. Stefan also repeated his demand that Dean Logan be prosecuted, and failing that, thinks Maleng should prosecute himself.
Hmm. Who’s next? After he’s cleaned the streets of government officials and the homeless, I suppose he’d turn his prosecutorial powers towards ridding society of scum like me… after all, he did once accuse me of “abetting a government cover-up.”
I’m not quite sure what makes Stefan so angry (he’s got a nice house, a lovely family, a clean car with personalized plates), but I wonder if he’s ever pondered the potential fiscal impact of his vindictive approach to politics. King County already spends about 70 percent of its general fund on criminal justice (sheriffs, courts, prisons, etc.) and a major purge of Stefan’s enemies list would severely strain the county budget. The cost of incarcerating an additional 284,510 people would be astronomical, but by golly, that’s a sacrifice Stefan is apparently willing to make.
Still, while Stefan would surely have Dean, Norm and I swing from the rafters for our crimes against the state, I think he may be jumping the gun a bit on the homeless voters thing. So as a courtesy to Stefan, Lori, and the befuddled Esquire Tebelius, perhaps I better reiterate and clarify the main point from my previous post on this issue: nothing in the WAC, the RCW or the voter registration form itself explicitly prohibits a voter from providing a PO box as his place of residence.
Stefan’s confusion may stem from the fact that the voter registration form requires applicants to provide the address of their actual residence. Since one cannot physically reside inside a PO Box, it seems reasonable to infer that one could never be properly registered at such an address.
But to protect the rights of the homeless and other citizens with “nontraditional residence”, our election statutes also wisely include provisions that permit such individuals to use the address of the location “the voter deems to be to be his/her residence.” For a homeless person, whose residence may in fact include an entire neighborhood, as opposed to a single park, shelter or doorway, their PO Box may be their one link to stability, and thus in their mind, more of a permanent residence than any other place. Imagine being homeless yourself, with no other address than the PO Box where you collect your mail — what address would you put down on the voter registration form, given no instructions to the contrary? (My guess is, “the parking lot at the Renton Walmart” wouldn’t be the first thing that comes to mind.)
But what of the provision that states such voters “will be registered” at a public building? To construe this as an instruction to voters would place it in contradiction to the sentence that precedes it, for the registration form simply does not permit a voter to list the address he deems to be his residence and the address of the nearest public building, unless the voter truly deems them to be one and the same.
As I’ve previously noted, this provision is clearly an instruction to election officials, not to voters… an interpretation that Stefan himself inadvertently and ironically confirms with his detective work on the “notorious Precinct 1823.”
Precinct 1823 has 763 registered “Active” voters. 527 of them list as their residence address 500 4th Ave — the King County Administration Building. 241 of these voters specifically note their apartment number as #553, which is the room number of the …
King Ukraine County Records and Elections office .
Over 300 of these alleged “voters” give 500 4th Ave. (with or without the Elections office room number) as both their residence and mailing addresses. Several of the other Elections Office residents give overseas mailing addresses, such as Anuj Rathi of Mumbai, India ,Rayko Suzuki of Tokyo, Japan , and Pascal Engi of Bern, Switzerland.
Stefan chose to interpret this as proof of fraud, and for a few days right-wing talk radio got itself all puffed up over his conspiratorial analysis. But in reality, this was merely evidence of individual election workers attempting to follow the statute. When a registration form with a nontraditional address came in, KCRE correctly registered the voter at a public building. And what more obvious building for elections workers to use than the address of the office in which they worked?
It is not surprising if in the course of processing the tens of thousands of registration forms received each year, elections officials occasionally fail to recognize an address as nontraditional… but it certainly is not grounds for disqualifying a voter’s ballot, let alone prosecuting anyone for a Class C Felony, as Stefan demands.
Though I believe it misguided and ultimately self-destructive, I understand the GOP’s anti-democratic strategy; if they had managed to purge a couple thousand King County voters from the rolls before the 2004 election, Dino Rossi might be governor today. But I have trouble wrapping my mind around the anger and hatred of people like Stefan and the EFF’s Bob Williams, whose thirst for political payback has prompted them to repeatedly call for the jailing of elected officials, government workers and ordinary citizens.
Recently we had a lively debate in the comment threads over the impact of uncivil language on civil discourse. But when those on the other side start echoing — however mildly — the eliminationist rhetoric of the hard right… I wonder if there can be a debate at all?
WashBlog has excellent coverage of yesterday’s challenge hearings, including a wonderful grilling of Sotelo by Democratic attorney Kevin Hamilton. An absolute must read.