The King County Canvassing Board voted today to reject over
half two-thirds of the voter registration challenges brought by the GOP several days before the election. The rulings only concerned those challenged voters who cast a ballot in the November 8 election.
While the proceedings were still ongoing when I left, a pattern quickly emerged. Dan Satterberg (representing County Prosecuting Attorney Norm Maleng, a Republican) voted to accept all the registration challenges, arguing that mailbox businesses could never be used as a registration address, whereas Elections Director Dean Logan and Democratic Councilman Dow Constantine only accepted those challenges for which “clear and convincing evidence” was provided either by the GOP or the voters themselves, that this was not their actual residence.
This party line split is not like to satisfy either side, for while it establishes a precedent by which challengers must meet a high standard in order to prevail, it does nothing to discourage the GOP from filing similar speculative, poorly researched challenges in the future. And the lack of unanimity will only feed into partisan tensions.
Ironically, the Democrats’ willingness to accept a challenge, even though the challenger failed to meet the statutory requirement of providing evidence of the voter’s actual address, created the odd situation in which those voters who actively defended their ballots were those most likely to be disqualified. Logan and Constantine voted to accept the challenge of those voters whose testimony in person or via affidavit provided an alternate address. For those who did not testify and for which the GOP could not prove another residence, the challenge was rejected.
The philosophical difference between Constantine and Logan on the one side, and Satterberg on the other was best illustrated by the case of David Combs, a homeless man, registered at a UPS mailbox store, who testified that the owner actually gave him a key so that he could sleep inside the store on cold nights and use the facilities.
Constantine cited this as an example that “the challenger’s assertion that certain classes of property could not be used as a residence was not acceptable,” and that the board “cannot conclude as a matter of law” that all such mailbox registrations are invalid. Satterberg nonetheless repeated his interpretation that a mailbox facility could never be a valid residence, regardless of the circumstances.
I’ll provide my thoughts and analysis in a separate post, once the final tally is in.
Unofficial tally: 57 challenges accepted, 132 challenges rejected.
WashBlog’s mysterious Anonym has more on today’s hearing, but be sure to link on over to his cross-post at Daily Kos and recommend the diary, so this important local story gets maximum national exposure.