With over one million registered voters, a third of the state’s electorate, and two congressional seats, King County comprises an election jurisdiction larger than 16 states plus the District of Columbia. And yet this two-to-one Democratic county at the heart of WA’s progressive majority risks ceding control of its elections operations to a Republican Party with a proven national agenda of voter intimidation and suppression.
Should I-25 pass this November as expected, the county elections director could switch from an appointed professional to an elected officer, chosen in a “non-partisan,” low-profile, February special election — the perfect opportunity for a Republican to sneak into office. Meanwhile, Democrats are fighting to break the GOP’s sixty-year lock on the office of Prosecuting Attorney — the equivalent of the Attorney General of a small state. With these two offices come two of the three seats on the King County Canvassing Board, and the ability to disenfranchise any voter or disallow any ballot, on a simple two-to-one vote.
Republican voter suppression campaigns cannot be taken lightly in a county where Republicans, following the lead of their Summit County, Ohio counterparts the year before, challenged thousands of voter registrations just days before the 2005 election, sowing confusion, suppressing turnout, and forcing many voters to cast provisional ballots. Despite the fact that many of these challenges were in error, and against the legal advice of the attorney his own office assigned to provide expert counsel to the board, PAO Chief of Staff Dan Satterberg repeatedly voted to uphold challenges that did not include the voter’s current address as required by law. And despite the fact that KCGOP officer Lori Sotello signed thousands of affidavits declaring “under penalty of perjury … personal knowledge” that she did not have, Satterberg and his office refused to even investigate allegations of perjury.
Now Satterberg is running as a Republican for Prosecuting Attorney, and should he win, local, state and federal elections could hang in the balance. Not because Satterberg is corrupt, but because he subscribes to a political philosophy that views the franchise as a privilege, not a right, and because he belongs to a party with an established record of fighting to invalidate otherwise qualified ballots based on the tiniest discrepancy or voter error, while choosing to ignore the technical violations of those bringing the challenges. His is the party that pioneered turn-out friendly vote-by-mail in Republican dominated jurisdictions, yet fights it tooth and nail in our state’s most populous and Democratic county. His is the party that attempted to exploit the 2004 election controversy by proffering election “reforms” whose singular purpose seemed to be to make it harder to vote.
Despite Satterberg’s protestations to the contrary, the PAO is a partisan office, and always has been, and as the Seattle P-I noted in the wake of the bogus voter registration challenges, Satterberg’s longtime mentor Norm Maleng was “a partisan politician.” Party affiliation matters because it denotes a set of values, and in this election, Democrat Bill Sherman’s values are much more closely aligned with those of the vast majority of county voters.
Satterberg and his surrogates have gone on the attack because they know that negative campaigning works, and given their two-to-one money advantage this gives them a good shot at winning in November. Please, don’t let Republican money decide this election, when so many future elections could hang in the balance.
On Tuesday we launched a netroots fundraiser for Sherman, seeking to raise $5000 from 200 contributors over five days. As of this morning, 52 supporters have given $3240 — that’s a tremendous start, but still far short of our donor target. A surge in dollars and donors makes it easier for Bill to raise money from other donors, so if $10 is all you can afford, that’s more than enough.
Please give to Bill Sherman today, in whatever amount you can afford.