by Goldy, 08/30/2007, 10:41 AM

Secretary of State Sam Reed has issued a press release comparing voter turnout rates throughout the state in WA’s first ever August primary, and well, it really doesn’t contain any surprises.

The 2007 State Primary demonstrates that the people of Washington prefer to vote at home.

Among the poll-site counties of King, Kittitas, and Pierce, the projected overall turnout is 25%. Turnout in the state’s two largest counties, King and Pierce, was driven down by poll voters. Combined turnout for poll voters in King and Pierce is expected to reach only 8%, while combined turnout for those voting by mail is likely to reach 33%.

“When voters receive their ballots at their homes, they are more likely to vote,” said Handy. “The 25% turnout difference between poll voters and vote-by-mail voters in King and Pierce really underscores why counties in Washington are moving to vote-by-mail.”

It also underscores why many Republicans, like our good friend Stefan, adamantly oppose King County’s proposed move to all vote-by-mail, as the status quo clearly gives Republicans a demonstrable advantage in statewide elections by depressing the turnout in the state’s most populous and Democratic county. And they seem totally unconcerned by the hypocrisy of bemoaning King’s status as the only county without an elected elections director, at the same time they fight tooth and nail to make it the only county without all vote-by-mail.

I’m guessing there might be a Republican-championed election reform whose goal or effect hasn’t been to depress or even suppress the vote, but none immediately comes to mind.

63 Responses to “Block the vote”

1. SeattleJew spews:

Goldy

As you know I am concerned about the potential misuse of mail-in ballots. The alw is pretty good but I think the likley use of chirch parties etc to buy votes is very real.

I wonder if a good srtrategy would be to simultaneously support mandatory mail-in, no polls other than as drops, combined with a strengthening of the fraud laws?

One simple example, might be aw against voting “parties” or about the spending of money that in any way gives others the ability to see my ballot. In that wy reform would have teeth.

If this were possible I personally would like to see us explore net voting. I am aware of the security issues but they are no worse than voting place security.

2. Roger Rabbit spews:

Roger Rabbit For Elections Director

If we’re going to have an elected partisan hack running King County’s elections, it may as well be me.

3. Lee spews:

@1
SJ,
I think your concern over the misuse of mail-in ballots will exist if we move to net voting as well. Not everyone has a computer (especially older folks). I could certainly see the same issues coming up. But maybe I’m misreading what your specific concerns are.

4. delbert spews:

It’s not that VBM is bad, what’s bad is the lack of accountability in the collection and counting of said ballots. Give us a VBM system where you can ensure John or Jane Doe voted their own ballot, and only their own ballot, and I’ll support it.

What do you do about 30 residents of an assisted living home who get “help” from the staff filling out their ballots?

What do you do about relatives (Ron Sims’ nephew) and friends (Joel Connellys’ east coast buddies) keeping a “residence” in one jurisdiction while actually living in another?

What do you do about late ballots to our troops outside the U.S. so they are disenfranchised?

Why are people so opposed to an elected Auditor as head of elections when you know that person will likely be a Democrat given the demographics in this town?

I’d prefer answers to these questions instead of the usual ad hominim attacks.

5. michael spews:

Pierce County is largely mail in ballots, we have our elected auditor in charge of voting and it’s pretty problem free (there will always be problems in every system).

6. Goldy spews:

delbert @4,

What do you do about 30 residents of an assisted living home who get “help” from the staff filling out their ballots?

What do you do about relatives (Ron Sims’ nephew) and friends (Joel Connellys’ east coast buddies) keeping a “residence” in one jurisdiction while actually living in another?

But we’re not debating VBM versus poll voting. We’re debating all VBM versus a system where 80% vote by mail and 20% vote at the polls. Preventing King County from moving to all VBM does nothing to address those two questions.

What do you do about late ballots to our troops outside the U.S. so they are disenfranchised?

A) That’s just not supported by the facts. Ballots went out in 2004, and military ballots were returned at a rate of 81% in KC, the same percentage as VBM ballots in general. B) Again, what does that have to do with moving to all VBM? It’s not like overseas military personnel have the option of showing up at the polls.

Why are people so opposed to an elected Auditor as head of elections when you know that person will likely be a Democrat given the demographics in this town?

Because it is bad policy. I’d rather have an elections director who is skilled at running elections rather than running for them. I believe that this injects politics into the system and decreases accountability.

7. Tlazolteotl spews:

Woo hoo! I’m an 8%-er!

8. OneMan spews:

I actually prefer voting at the polling place and here’s why: It’s completely mental. Having to go vote at a polling place gives me a hard deadline by which I need to be prepared to actually vote and for whatever reason, I respond to that.

I hadn’t missed a vote for years when I had to show up somewhere to vote. The first VBM ballot we got when KC changed over sat on the kitchen counter until the day after the election and then got thrown out…because for some reason it was easier to ignore.

I got the latest ballot in so maybe I’m changing my habits. Still, I’d prefer to vote in person.

More on-topic, can anyone ‘splain to me why having an all-mail-in ballot causes a better turnout than also serving polling places? That seems counterintuitive to me.

-OM

9. SeattleJew spews:

@1 Lee

My concerns are that the obvious incentive in a mail-in world. Who control who gets ballots and how they use them?

Unions, churches, companies, will all have an incentive to make sure all their members get ballots. This is get out the vote, but Rove has taught us how that can be twisted. I see no answer to this problem, it will mean both sides need to raise $$ to see that their constituencies have ballots.

The real problem comes once you have the ballots. Every politicized church, for example, is likely to have ballot parties where the leaders “help” people fill out the ballot. Imagine Hutchinson having a baked bean supper, admission = a ballot. Followed by LETS ALL PULL OUT OUR ballots. This will be followed by we mail for you … maybe even returning ballots by truck so no postage is required.

Finally, when do folks vote. This is alreayd a problem with candidate scheduling and will be worse if ballots can be sent in over a month or two weeks. A voting machine .. a la Rove might even hold voting pareties early in order to save money later ina campaign.

The slippery slope from there is obvious. The potential to buy votes, as long as the purchase is not explicit, worries me a lot. Imagine Paul Allan descending on some community with a free voters night, good food and we help you vote. I’ll betya lots of folks would “sell” their vote for a WWJD tea shirt.

The point is that the reason for the polling place is the enforcement of secrecy.

As for the PC, I see three levels of issue.

On the one hand there are the obvious issues of access and comfort wiht the computer. Access can be solved in a lot of ways .. there are lots of free access PCs around today. A bigger issue may be getting people to use a computer interface and the percentages of contituencies put off by this method.

On the other hand, the computer approach can be made more private than a paper ballot, although as I think .

Finally, there is the voter electronic fraud issue. I am not as concerned with this as others. I suspect (tell me if I am wrong)the technology is available, mainly there is a need for better political oversight.

10. David spews:

#8 – I did exactly the same thing. I actually filled mine out, then left it in my ‘in box’ waiting to get a stamp and simply forgot about it. Opps!

Maybe some more/better reminders of the date. I think it hurt that this was a non-standard date for doing an election so I wasn’t really thinking about it.

But overall I do prefer and all VBM system. The last few times I voted at my polling stop here in West Sea I had a very ‘nice’ old lady working there try to get me to sign the wrong line in the voting register…I had to point out what my name was and where I was supposed to sign. Again, very nice lady, she meant well and neither of us was trying to commit fraud or anything, but I see how mistakes are made.

11. Right Stuff spews:

@9
Amen Brother!

My concerns echo yours. Voting parties held by churches, union halls, etc etc etc bring the possibility of fraud much closer to the ballot than before.

I would much rather go the other direction and make it much harder to vote absentee.

12. Lee spews:

@9
I guess more specifically, you have a very valid concern here:

The real problem comes once you have the ballots. Every politicized church, for example, is likely to have ballot parties where the leaders “help” people fill out the ballot. Imagine Hutchinson having a baked bean supper, admission = a ballot. Followed by LETS ALL PULL OUT OUR ballots. This will be followed by we mail for you … maybe even returning ballots by truck so no postage is required.

I completely agree. So, if we move to online voting, what’s stopping that same church from setting up a computer and “helping” people fill out their ballots? To me, I see the same level of risk in both places.

13. Daddy Love spews:

1, 9 SJ

I think the likely use of church parties, etc., to buy votes is very real.

Right. And your opinion of the “likelihood” on an occurrence is the reason to change public policy.

But hindering and/or bribing a voter is a Class C felony, and that should dissuade some people, don’t you think? And deceptive, and incorrect vote recording is a gross misdemeanor under the RCW (29A.84.610 Deceptive, incorrect vote recording, and 29A.84.620 Hindering or bribing voter). But there is no law I could find that says people can’t gather in big parties and talk about the issues, even if they have a mail-n ballot in one hand and a pen in the other. I don’t see that as “buying” a vote, do you?

Should there be a legal restriction on the right of voters to gather in this way? We could have that conversation. Maybe a lot of people, even possibly a majority, think there is nothing wrong with this.

14. Daddy Love spews:

11 RS

And your evidence of such occurrences consists of—what? The usual Republican evidence? Then there’s no problem.

And as for “churches,” do you mean that big authoritarian cultist Republican voter parties that they’ll hold at Ken Hutcherson’s Antioch Bible Church, or is it just the union halls and black churches you’re agin?

15. Daddy Love spews:

9/11

So a church, union hall, hairdressing business, or Jewish Deli sets up a big tent and a bunch of people come and gab about who to vote for and they fill out their ballots. WHERE’S THE FRAUD?

As you might expect, I am a bit partial to actual law, so you might quote the RCW in your reply.

16. Right Stuff spews:

@13
Good points,
the line between a political party where everyone discusses how they intend to vote or voted (a al drinking liberally) and a voting party seems to have been shaded grey.

But there is no law I could find that says people can’t gather in big parties and talk about the issues, even if they have a mail-n ballot in one hand and a pen in the other. I don’t see that as “buying” a vote, do you?

Not buying a vote per se but what of the influence of a union hall, or church, or some other advocacy group? Don’t we open the door wide open for problems?

My contention is when we take the ballot out of the polling place, we increase the chances for problems.

17. Lee spews:

@15
To be fair, only Right Stuff referred to it as fraud. I’m not sure if SJ sees that as fraud, or just an advantage that mail-in voting gives to politicized churches.

18. Right Stuff spews:

@15
Do we allow advocacy groups in the voter booth?
Do we allow advocacy groups in the polling place?

In short, there is your answer.

RCW 29A.84.510

19. Daddy Love spews:

16

Kind of like the “advantage” that get-out-the-vote programs give candidates, parties, or ballot issues. I don’t see a problem here at all. And as you have said, Lee, absolutely nothing connected to moving from an 80% mail system to a 100% mail system.

20. Right Stuff spews:

@15-16
I said

bring the possibility of fraud much closer to the ballot than before

I did not say it would occur, or has occured.

21. Daddy Love spews:

17 RS

Gee, if only a polling place were defined such that this made any sense at all. Why do I doubt that you’d find a judge who would define polling place such that a husband who urges his wife to vote for candidate X as they fill out their ballots in their own home would be guilty of a felony?

22. Daddy Love spews:

19 RS

In that context:
So a church, union hall, hairdressing business, or Jewish Deli sets up a big tent and a bunch of people come and gab about who to vote for and they fill out their ballots. WHERE’S THE FRAUD THAT IS “POSSIBLE?”

23. Lee spews:

@19
You’re correct. I misread that.

24. Right Stuff spews:

@14

Look, in our current system that intends for voters to vote at a polling location, how do you hold a voting party?
All you have in that scenario is a “drinking liberally” kind of gathering. How do you know who is voting by mail v at the poll?

In a 100% VBM system where everyone knows that every voter will have a mail ballot. It’s easier to organize such events. They’ll know the dates that ballots are mailed, voter rolls etc etc etc….

25. Lee spews:

@21
An example would be if SeattleJew owned a deli and he was giving away free corned beef sandwiches to anyone who came into the store and marked their ballot for his friend Schlomo and then mailed it in.

26. Right Stuff spews:

@20
I agree, but it’s wrong none the less……
1 ballot, 1 voter, 1 vote.

I bet there are situations where spouses fill out the ballot of the other…”just sign here”

That is wrong. And more to the point, dodges the duty we have as citizens to exercise our right.

27. Daddy Love spews:

23 RS

Our “current system” is made up Of 80% mail-in votes. what’s the “intent” of that?

You could have gone to Drinking Liberally, talked to people and fill out your mail-in ballot and mailed it. How is that substantively different, and where does any possibility of fraud occur?

Everybody (who cares) ALREADY knows “They’ll know the dates that ballots are mailed, voter rolls etc etc etc.” I don’t get that this is sUbstantively different in today’s system, and where does any possibility of fraud occur?

28. Daddy Love spews:

24 Lee

An example would be if SeattleJew owned a deli and he was giving away free corned beef sandwiches to anyone who came into the store and marked their ballot for his friend Schlomo and then mailed it in.

Yes, IF he were giving sandwiches for a vote for his preferred candidate and denying them to others, I think he would be committing the Class C felony of bribing a voter. But
(a) that’s NOT where you have a big party and everyone talks about it and fills our ballots, and
(b) how is that different from SJ bribing voters who will cast a polling place ballot for his friend, except maybe a better deal for SJ if he can get them to show him the vote?

It’s not mail that makes bribery possible.

29. Lee spews:

@25
I think it’s only a problem if the spouse is coerced in some way. If a person wants someone they trust to tell them how to vote, I don’t think there’s a problem with that. What SeattleJew is concerned with is where the line between encouragement and coersion is blurry. In the case of churches or unions (and in several other areas), those things can happen.

30. Right Stuff spews:

Today’s system is bastard of what it’s supposed to be.
The absentee ballot should not have been made so easily available and then made permenent.

I posted this before, but it’s in the filter…. I guess

I think we need to go the other direction. Less vote by mail. Stricter absentee rules. The majority of votes cast at a polling location.

31. SeattleJew spews:

@12

I think you are right, but one answer might be to rule out an organized vote-ins. I.e. gathering people for the purpose of voting by any mechanism maybe should not be allowed.

I too have mixed feelings about Inet voting. Certainly I would like to know the demographics. I aslo suspect there would be a lot resistance from neoLuddites (including mutual friends).

However, if MIB is OK, Inet voting is sure to follow.

32. Right Stuff spews:

@26
I guess you know something I don’t here.
I wasn’t aware that there is public information on who votes by mail and who doesn’t.

33. Lee spews:

@27
I probably could have used a better example there. :)

I don’t think that mail-in ballots makes bribery or coersion possible where it wasn’t possible before. I just think it makes it somewhat easier.

34. Right Stuff spews:

@31
should be “who is receiving a mail ballot, and who isn’t”

35. Daddy Love spews:

25 RS

Right Stuff says:

1 ballot, 1 voter, 1 vote.
The scenario I painted does not change or contradict those statements.

I bet there are situations where spouses fill out the ballot of the other…”just sign here”
And I’ll bet there are almost none. But if the “filling out” represents the preferences of the citizen whose ballot it is, it’s not fraud EVEN IF THEY DO IT THAT WAY.

That is wrong. And more to the point, dodges the duty we have as citizens to exercise our right.

So our duty, as you see it, is all about walking to a poll or filling out your own ballot. What about people who can’t walk, people with really, really limited vision, or those who cannot read?

If they’re voting their preference, what of it?

You know, there are substantial penalties for vote fraud, and very little tangible incentive to add just one vote to a pile of thousands or milions of others at the risk of those penalties. I think your calculation of its attractiveness is off.

36. SeattleJew spews:

@13 DL

I did not say that preventing abuse was easy, quite the opposite.

The law as it exists is far too weak to be effective. If Ichiro agrees to sign baseballs in favor of the next stadium initiative in return for folks who come to Safeco next weekend, how many votes do you thin that would buy?

Or how about pix with the Sharif in return for you bring your ballot and we mail it?

BTW

I use a MIB.

37. Daddy Love spews:

35 SJ

If Ichiro agrees to sign baseballs in favor of the next stadium initiative in return for folks who come to Safeco next weekend, how many votes do you thin that would buy?

Yeah, that would never become public knowledge, would it? Then Ichiro and friends get to visit Walla Walla for a while.

I don’t see what we call the “value proposition.”

38. SeattleJew spews:

@21 Daddy

There is a very thin line between fraud and abuse. Rove is still a free man!

Just imagine this scenario:

Paul Allan wants MORE power over the city and decides ot openly buy a mayor. He “niminates” some pers on .. say Edgar Martinez as his candidate.

Besides all the other resources, Paul funds baseball or shirt signings where Edgar will sign in return for your bringing a ballot and voting after Edgar speaks.

Now, just greese the grass a little, lets see how far we can stretch this. How about giving away Mariners jackets as lottery and having pretty guys and handsome guys manning the voting tables to assist folks in filling out the ballots?

How about after folks vote, if tyhey just sayt they vote for Edgar we give them a lapel pin???

and so it goes. You do not need to have lived through two Bush regimes to imagine the consequences of immorality in campaigning.

There is no fraud. There is a massive opportunity for abuse of an imperfect system.

39. Daddy Love spews:

29 RS

I think we need to go the other direction. Less vote by mail. Stricter absentee rules. The majority of votes cast at a polling location.

Because…… …why?

Again, what’s the value proposition for the fraud that makes a large-scale operation worth the almost certain exposure and resulting felony prosecution?

And even more so for the small-scale, one-vote fraud. Who thinks that’s worth a felony beef?

40. Daddy Love spews:

So instead of succcessfully pulling the levers of power as he has for years from behind the scenes, Paul Allen wants to set up a risky mass-vote buying operation that could possibly (and given your setup I’d say probably) get him a felony conviction for fraud, because just using a billion dollars to run a regular campaign couldn’t get a major sports hero elected in this town?

41. Right Stuff spews:

DL

What is your point?

So our duty, as you see it, is all about walking to a poll or filling out your own ballot. What about people who can’t walk, people with really, really limited vision, or those who cannot read?

There are provisions for these scenarios, and I am not in any way looking to disenfranchise anyone….Just the opposite. I did not say or advocate “elliminating” absentee voting, simply stricter requirements, like for physical ailments, health, travel, etc..

Again, I ask what is your point?
In my opinion, a 100% VBM increases the chances for vote fraud. Our current 80% VBM does concern me. That is why I believe we should make absentee voting the exception, not the norm…

42. SeattleJew spews:

Note

I favor MIB and use it myself. However, I think there are clear opportunities for fraud AND an opning for Rovians to make a real issue into a worse one.

So, to me, the ideal would be for DEMS to support a voting opportunity law with clear penalties for any such abuse. I am not enough of an attorney to know what law should read like, but as a start ..

Any activity intended to influence how a MIB is filled out, including incentives for people of one or another poltical persuasion to vote at all will be penalized by castration of the candidate in whose interest the effort is made (if a male) or genital mutilation of its a female.

The former para is of course intended as blog sarcasm in the spirit of the Shark debate. I do mean something like this seriously. The kinds of push polling and rumor mongering under the Rving Repricans should be outlawed whatever ballot system we use. I just do nto want to see an opening to them (or us) for one more fomr of abuse.

43. SeattleJew spews:

39 .. you mistake my estimation of Paul’s ambition and wealth.

I am intentionally depicting a severe form.

That said, there is nothing that I see as fraudulent in the scenario I describe. Good demographics can select the kind of folks who will come to an event. There is no bribe, just a rah rah rally atmosphere that is as well tested a psychological trick as product placement in super markets.

You can ramp up or down from there but please do remember how the Caesars’ controlled their populace with bread and circuses. Mutatis Mutandi.

44. rhp6033 spews:

I was puzzled by the repeated Republican calls for an elected official to control elections in King County. Then I remember that Karl Rove’s long-term strategy, going back to the 1980′s, was to concentrate Republican dollars on rather obscure races to put Republicans in charge when elections are at issue. It paid off in spades for him in Florida in 2000 (Katherine Harris cuts off the vote recount and certifies the results with Bush winning), and in Ohio in 2004 (Republican Secty of State cuts thousands off the voter roles without the voters even knowing or having an opportunity to challenge the deletion, and takes polling booths away from Democratic precincts, resulting in lines several hours long to vote).

I can see it now – the election for King County Elections chief would be scheduled for some off-season balloting, along with some obscure levies. Turnout would predictably be low – 8 to 10%, and the candidates would normally expect to only have a few thousand dollars in their campaign budgets.

But a few weeks before the election, rumors start to spread about the Democratic candidate, the origins of which can’t quite be “pinned down”. The week before the election, the Democratic candidate would be hit with tens of thousands of dollars worth of TV ads from “independent groups”, accusing him of everything from accepting bribes, beating his kids, beating his mother, hating the military, and sending money to support Al Quida. The Democratic candidate doesn’t have the money to respond, and insufficient time to raise money. He takes what little money he has and tries to buy some TV time, only to find it all reserved by the Republicans up to the election. The newspapers try to maintain their “independence”, and without time to investigate the allegations, are reduced to merely repeating the allegations as being “alleged”, thereby further spreading the lies, along with a non-specific denial from the Democratic candidate.

Once a Republican is elected to control elections in King County, you can expect a considerable effort to disenfranchise potential Democratic voters.

Think this sounds far-fetched? Read about Rove’s tactics on behalf of clients in Alabama and Texas in the 1990′s.

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200411/green

45. SeattleJew spews:

Electing an election chief is idiocy akin to electing the bus drivers.

46. Lee spews:

@44
Electing an election chief is idiocy akin to electing the bus drivers.

Nice.

47. SeattleJew spews:

To think over ..

the smaller the vote the easier it is to use Rovian tactics toi influence the outcome.

48. Puddybud spews:

Another first:

I agree with Delbert.

49. Emily spews:

Way back in the late 1970s or early 1980s the Republicans were big on getting their guys to sign up for permanent absentee ballots. Nothing wrong with that. It’s a legitimate get-out-the-vote tactic. But of course when Democrats started doing it, the GOP got all huffy about how mail-in ballots would result in all kinds of voter fraud. And since the GOP knows that the bigger the voter turnout, the more the Democrat is likely to win, they’re mighty opposed to all mail-in ballots.

Not quite on topic, my husband and I switched to mail-in ballots when he missed voting by working over-time unexpectedly on election day. It wasn’t a big November election and he completely forgot about it. This won’t happen to him with mail-in ballots.

50. ArtFart spews:

The polling place where we vote is a middle school auditorium, and ever since we’ve had “fill-in-the-little-ovals” ballots a lot of people have chosen to get their ballots and sit in the theater seats instead of bellying up to those little folding “booth” things. It’s something of a social occasion–the PTA used to make a few bucks selling coffee and pastries in the morning, until someone decided that wasn’t a good idea. (Imagine what gook from a cinnamon roll on a ballot does when it goes through the machine!) Couples will often get comfortable together with their ballots and voters’ pamphlets, take their time, talk amongst themselves, and make sure they’re voting for who and what they really wanted to.

My dear departed parents voted absentee for years, filling out their ballots at the dining table. As Mom’s Alzheimer’s advanced, this became more and more a proposition of her marking what Dad told her to, but not entirely. Dad’s political thinking moved a little to the left over the years, partly because they personally knew Helen Sommers, but increasingly since 2000 because in his words, Bush and his pals “gave him the creeps”. Mom, on the other hand, steadfastly voted for all Republican candidates, although in the last few years she couldn’t elucidate a reason why other than her firm conviction that Democrats were “Crum-bums”. This in and of itself may have been no less rational than whatever motivates some of the trolls who post on this site.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think either of the practices I’ve described above is terribly wrong. On the other hand, wholesale buying of votes or something like having a large group of folks mail in ballots that someone’s filled out for them…yeah, that would get most people’s knickers in a knot. However, the difference is only a matter of degree. Since there’s always going to be some jackasses who’ll try to see how far they can go and get away with it, for us as a society to collectively figure out where to draw the line could end up being something of a chore.

51. ArtFart spews:

Actually, I’m not at all sure Edgar wouldn’t make a perfectly good mayor.

52. SeattleJew spews:

@50
Lets start the ball rolling.

Draft EdGAR!!!!!!

Can you imagine the debate these guys could put on???

Or how about this: We launch a “Give Paul a Kiss” campaign to honor Paul Allan by electing him mayor based on his promise NOT to do any governing.

What a bday pres! Suppose we ask the other Seattle billionaires to chip into this nice gift. I know HA has a number of pro campaignes out there, how much would it cost to buy Paul a mayorship?

53. Roger Rabbit spews:

@4 “Give us a VBM system where you can ensure John or Jane Doe voted their own ballot, and only their own ballot, and I’ll support it.”

That’s what the signature on the absentee ballot is for, dolt!

54. Roger Rabbit spews:

@4 “What do you do about late ballots to our troops outside the U.S. so they are disenfranchised?”

1) You move the primary from September to August, to give election officials more time to print and mail general election ballots after certifying the primary results. This is exactly what the Democratic legislature did, and it was opposed every step of the way by obstructionist Republicans.

2) You pass a federal law creating a Federal Write In Ballot and requiring every military unit to have a Voting Assistance Officer. This way, any military voter who doesn’t receive his ballot can still vote. This was already in place before the 2004 election.

55. Roger Rabbit spews:

@4 (continued)

3) You elect a Democrat to the White House, who appoints honest U.S. Attorneys, who prosecute Karl Rove and Tim Griffin for violating the Civil Rights Act by using “caging lists” to make race-based voter challenges against African-American soldiers deployed overseas. Then you get a liberal judge to throw Rove’s and Griffin’s asses in prison as a deterrent to other Republicans who may be tempted to interfere with the right of soldiers to vote:

“The Republican National Committee has a special offer for African-American soldiers: Go to Baghdad, lose your vote.

“A confidential campaign directed by GOP party chiefs in October 2004 sought to challenge the ballots of tens of thousands of voters in the last presidential election, virtually all of them cast by residents of Black-majority precincts.

“Files from the secret vote-blocking campaign were obtained by BBC Television Newsnight, London. They were attached to emails accidentally sent by Republican operatives to a non-party website.

“One group of voters wrongly identified by the Republicans as registering to vote from false addresses: servicemen and women sent overseas.

“Here’s how the scheme worked: The RNC mailed these voters letters in envelopes marked, ‘Do not forward’, to be returned to the sender. These letters were mailed to servicemen and women, some stationed overseas, to their US home addresses. The letters then returned to the Bush-Cheney campaign as ‘undeliverable.’ The lists of soldiers of ‘undeliverable’ letters were transmitted from state headquarters … to the RNC in Washington. The party could then challenge the voters’ registration and thereby prevent their absentee ballots being counted.

“One target list was comprised exclusively of voters registered at the Jacksonville, Florida, Naval Air Station. … [See this scrub sheet at http://flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=160156893&context=set-72157594155273706&size=o ] …

“A soldier returning home in time to vote in November 2004 could also be challenged on the basis of the returned envelope. Soldiers challenged would be required to vote by ‘provisional’ ballot. Over one million provisional ballots cast in the 2004 race were never counted; over half a million absentee ballots were also rejected. The extraordinary rise in the number of rejected ballots was the result of the widespread multi-state voter challenge campaign by the Republican Party. …

“The BBC obtained several dozen confidential emails sent by the Republican’s national Research Director and Deputy Communications chief, Tim Griffin to GOP Florida campaign chairman Brett Doster and other party leaders. Attached were spreadsheets marked, ‘Caging.xls.’ Each of these contained several hundred to a few thousand voters and their addresses. A check of the demographics of the addresses on the ‘caging lists,’ as the GOP leaders called them indicated that most were in African-American majority zip codes.

“Ion Sanco, the non-partisan elections supervisor of Leon County (Tallahassee) when shown the lists by this reporter said: ‘The only thing I can think of – African American voters listed like this – these might be individuals that will be challenged if they attempted to vote on Election Day.’ …

“The Republican National Committee in Washington refused our several requests to respond to the BBC discovery. … The party has refused to say why it would mark soldiers as having ‘bad addresses’ subject to challenge when they had been assigned abroad. … Setting up such a challenge list would be a crime under federal law. … While the party insisted the lists were not created for the purpose to challenge Black voters, the GOP ultimately offered no other explanation for the mailings. …

“Soldiers sending in their ballot from abroad would not know their vote was lost because of a challenge.”

Quoted under Fair Use; for complete article and/or copyright info see http://tinyurl.com/jv9nf

56. Roger Rabbit spews:

@17 What’s RCW 29A.84.510 got to do with filling out absentee ballots?

57. Peter M spews:

What percentage of absentee ballots arrived in the mail, and what percentage where left at polling places?

On August 21, I worked at a King County polling place with 11 precincts. We had about 80 ballots cast (only six at the precinct I was responsible for), plus 63 absentee ballots (possibly for other parts of the county or state) brought in.

58. Roger Rabbit spews:

@57 I don’t know what that percentage is, but I been a pollworker for several elections, and there’s always a lot of people bringing in absentee ballots. All the polling places I’ve worked in (and I’ve worked in at least 4 different ones that I can recall) had significant numbers of absentee ballots dropped off at the ballot place. It saves people a stamp.

Like all pollworkers, I vote absentee (you have to, unless you’re working in your own precinct, which I generally don’t), and I dropped mine off at the polling place where I worked on Aug. 21 (which was not where I would vote) because doing that saved me 41 cents.

59. Roger Rabbit spews:

I’ve

60. Douglas Tooley spews:

A relevant observation:

Has anyone ever really thought about the recent, partisan, changes in our primary system.

The legislature did a curious thing. They OUTLAWED independent votes in primaries. Now, I have no objection to the parties restricting cross-over voters in THEIR selection processes – but the law reads as such – it is actually illegal for anyone to even count, much less report, any other votes. Choose not to identify? Choose to vote for an opposite party candidate you particularly like? Pfbbt – there goes your entire ballot, by law.

Now I do think we have this thing called the First Ammendment and FWIW, I’m of the opinion that it does apply to the ballot box. Those votes need to be tabulated and anyone, including candidates, should be free to do with them as they will.

The thinking about it further though comes to this conclusion – the reason for this change is money. Independent voters are also the most likely to be the swing voters on money measures held during the primaries.

Am I accusing the state legislature of anti-constitutional fraud? You decide.

Anyone care to disagree with my interpretation?

-Douglas Tooley
Lincoln District, Tacoma

61. Right Stuff spews:

Like all pollworkers, I vote absentee (you have to, unless you’re working in your own precinct, which I generally don’t)

couldn’t you use a provisional ballot?

@17 What’s RCW 29A.84.510 got to do with filling out absentee ballots?

it doesn’t per se, yet it does establish rules for the polling place, and prohibit electioneering, which is the point I guess I was getting at.

62. zappini spews:

Mail balloting primarily benefits motivated (partisan, affluent) voters.

Forced mail voting will suppress the turnout of infrequent “presidential year” voters.

How Forced Mail Voting Effects Voter Turnout [washblog.com]

63. Aexia spews:

Now I do think we have this thing called the First Ammendment and FWIW, I’m of the opinion that it does apply to the ballot box. Those votes need to be tabulated and anyone, including candidates, should be free to do with them as they will.

The First Amendment is exactly why the US Supreme Court tossed out an open primary – organizations like the Democratic, Republican, and Libertarian parties have a right to nominate their own candidates.

If you want to vote in a Democratic primary, there’s nothing stopping you from becoming a Democrat. Otherwise, why should you get a say in the nomination of candidates for a party you’re unwilling to join?