Over the approximately three years I have participated in the comment threads at Horses Ass, I’ve frequently been called a Democrat. And my typical response has been something like, “Actually I am not a Democrat. When I have lived in states that require registration by party, I have always refused—even to extent of being excluded from voting in primaries.” It’s true. I’ve never joined the Democrats—even though it is obvious that my political sensibilities and sympathies are closely allied with the Democrats.
This explains, in part, why I didn’t participate in the Democratic caucus. I didn’t participate in the Republican “caucus” either. In order to participate, the Democrats wanted me to “consider myself a Democrat” and the Republicans wanted me to be “a member of the Republican Party.”
But there was more to my non-participation. The fact is, I’d be equally happy with either Clinton or Obama as the Democratic nominee, so I had little reason to attend the Democratic caucus. I considered caucusing for Mitt Romney, but the bastard surrendered to terrorism while terrorizing his own supporters earlier that week. So I sat out that one, too.
Over the last week I’ve had a change of heart. I am ready to sign up for a party, for the first time in my life. And given how the Washington state Republicans are in shambles…I think they need me. Really. Yeah…maybe I’ll change my mind in a few days, but right now, I think the Republicans really need me, if only to boost their numbers. So I’m joining the Republicans and I’ll at least contribute half a vote to their primary on Tuesday.
I’m supporting Mike Huckabee. Given that McCain’s “victory” last Saturday was little more than a decree from Boss Esser, I think Mike Huckabee is entitled to a decree on Tuesday that arises from some sort of numerical system that proportionately reflects the make-up of the party faithful (like, um…me!).
I strongly encourage you to do the same thing. Sure…there will be the shame and humiliation of signing an oath that you are a Republican. And you might even feel like you’re lying a little bit. But, these days, the very act of lying pretty much fully qualifies you to be a card carrying Republican! Imagine the great opportunities in being a Republican…like, serving as a Research Assistant on Lori Sotelo’s Voter Suppression Squad™.
Think of your new membership as a trial subscription…. If you find it causes odd changes in your behavior, attitudes, or physiology like, say, a new-found desire to have sex in public toilets, or an unexplainable urge to knock your mother to the floor, or perhaps being turned on by falafel as a shower sex toy, then all you need to do is renounce your membership. Experiment over.
Hell…the trauma and uncontrolled trembling associated with casting your first ballot as a member of the Republican Party may be enough to cause an instant renunciation. If it induces vomiting, renounce immediately and completely; see a doctor.
How do you join the Republicans? Well…don’t go to the Washington State Republican Party web site. You won’t find any instructions on how to join there. That pretty much means you can join any way you want. The usual methods should work—kill a member of an endangered species, test drive a Hummer, drag a disadvantaged member of society down the road behind your pick-up truck, join the Ted Nugent fan club, shoot your neighbor’s dog…. If those methods are too much work, there is an easier way: leave a comment below stating that you are a member. Or, use an even easier method: simply do nothing except sign that poll-book or absentee ballot envelop declaration for Tuesday’s primary election. The WSRP explains (my emphasis):
You are eligible to participate in your local Republican precinct caucus if you are a registered voter in that precinct, show up at the caucus location at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9th, and sign a declaration indicating that you are a member of the Republican Party and have not and will not participate in the 2008 precinct caucus or convention system of any other party. It is not necessary for you to have previously declared that you are a member of the Republican Party.
If it works for the caucus, it works for the primary.
But what if you already participated in the Democratic caucus? Can you then vote in the Republican primary? The real answer is YES, although it is sure hard to tell from this piece in yesterday’s Olympian:
“What we’re telling people is just be honest,” said Pat McCarthy, Pierce County auditor. “You need to know that when you sign that oath you’re adhering to the statement of the oath.”
Or else … what?
“I’m not quite sure,” she said.
In fact, no one is, but everyone seems to have an answer that sounds plausible.
“It’s against the law,” said Joanie Deutsch, a spokeswoman for the Secretary of State’s office. Deutsch dialed up RCW 29.19, relating to primaries, before determining that such acts constitute voter fraud.
But ask Nick Handy in the elections division of the Secretary of State’s office and you get another perspective: It’s a violation of the law for which the law provides no sanction.
Translation: Yes, it’s illegal. But since there’s no punishment assigned to it, you conceivably could break that law with abandon and not get any flak.
Here’s another interesting part, Handy said. Since caucuses are party-run affairs, only the parties knows who went last Saturday.
Aside from the parties, that is. And they’re not sharing.
For the final word, Handy suggested asking Jeff Even, deputy solicitor general in the Attorney General’s office and an expert on the matter.
His take: It’s hypothetically legally binding.
It would be almost impossible to prosecute someone for voter fraud, perjury, or the gross misdemeanor of false swearing for pulling a switcheroo, Even said.
And so the question becomes, if the oath creates a crime that’s impossible to prove, prosecute or punish: Why write one in the first place?
“Most people would take an oath seriously,” Even said.
Hypothetically legally binding, my ass. In fact, there is nothing in the RCW or the WAC that prevents you from participating in a Democratic caucus and a Republican primary. It’s true that you would be lying to both Parties in doing so, but lying to both the Democrats and Republicans seems like the perfect rite of passage for becoming a Republican.
I’m not a lawyer…so consider my reasoning but come to your own conclusions. The relevant law is found in RCW 29A.56 (not RCW 29.19 as the spokeswoman for the Secretary of State supposedly “dialed up”). Also check out the appropriate portion of the WAC.
You will not find anything dealing with an unfaithful oath to a party in the primary. The core issue is whether a violated oath could result in second degree perjury (RCW 9A.72.030) or false swearing (RCW 9A.72.040a) charges. But the language (found in WAC 434-219-140) states
(3) Each registered voter desiring to participate in the presidential primary of a major party that requires a declaration shall subscribe to the declaration.
As Sam Reed was so kindly pointed out during the SignatureGathererGate in May of 2006:
Both perjury in the second degree and false swearing require the statement be made under an oath “required or authorized by law”. This is a term defined in the statute:
“An oath is “required or authorized by law” when the use of the oath is specifically provided for by statute or regulatory provision or when the oath is administered by a person authorized by state or federal law to administer oaths[.]”
Apparently, by WAC 434-219-140, even the desire to participate in a party’s primary requires one to make an oath to the party! More importantly, the word “subscribe” in legalese simply means to sign one’s name. In other words, the oath is to a party, but the legal requirement is simply a signature on the oath provided by the party. The oath itself is meaningless (except as a way to join the Republican Party) for another important reason: because it doesn’t conform to the legal requirements for an unsworn oath. RCW 9A.72.085:
Unsworn statements, certification.
Whenever, under any law of this state or under any rule, order, or requirement made under the law of this state, any matter in an official proceeding is required or permitted to be supported, evidenced, established, or proved by a person’s sworn written statement, declaration, verification, certificate, oath, or affidavit, the matter may with like force and effect be supported, evidenced, established, or proved in the official proceeding by an unsworn written statement, declaration, verification, or certificate, which:
(1) Recites that it is certified or declared by the person to be true under penalty of perjury;
(2) Is subscribed by the person;
(3) States the date and place of its execution; and
(4) States that it is so certified or declared under the laws of the state of Washington.
The certification or declaration may be in substantially the following form:
“I certify (or declare) under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of Washington that the foregoing is true and correct”:
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
(Date and Place) (Signature)
This section does not apply to writings requiring an acknowledgement, depositions, oaths of office, or oaths required to be taken before a special official other than a notary public.
Finally, as Nick Handy points out, there are no provisions written into law to punish people who sign the oath but violate it.
All this is simply academic for me, since I didn’t participate in the Democratic caucus, and the very act of writing this post is my way of joining the Washington state Republican Party. I can sign in good conscience.
You can become an Insta-Republican too. It’s easy. Simply say so in the comment thread. Or sign that declaration on your ballot and mail it in.
And vote for Mike Huckabee—because real change comes out of joking about razor blades in each hand in a nice warm tub!