We’ve heard a lot of partisan squawking from Dino Rossi and his paranoid parrots on the right wing blogs, about corrupt Democrats trying to steal the gubernatorial election. And some of it is beginning to cross the line from mean to weird.
Over on (un)Sound Politics, our friend Stefan — angered that Snohomish County won’t deliver its voter registration database in a more convenient file format — has regressed to calling Auditor Bob Terwilliger a “snot nosed jerk.” Meanwhile, co-unSounder Jim Miller continues to calmly push his theory that Democrats stole the election through “distributed vote fraud,” a pseudo-scholarly term (coined by Jim) that relies on the thoroughly insulting premise:
6. Cheaters are more likely to be Democrats than Republicans.
Yeah… right, Jim. Way to add to the public debate.
Unfortunately, while both sides focus on partisan spin, we are missing an opportunity to address some bipartisan issues. For example, obscured in all the hyperbole over voter fraud and enhanced ballots, is the longtime problem of disenfranchised overseas military personnel.
As Robert Jamieson points out in his column in today’s Seattle P-I (“In the military, out of the ballot loop“) hundreds of military voters may have received their absentee ballots too late to vote. There was a lot of big talk from Republicans for a couple of days, about protecting the voting rights of our troops, but the issue seems to have been forgotten once the facts inconveniently got in the way of pinning the blame on evil Democrats. According to Jamieson:
The Secretary of State’s Office tells me it hasn’t received even a trickle of complaints. Ballots were mailed out in time — on Oct. 8, more than three weeks before the election.
Delays or snafus could have occurred once the ballots hit the postal network or entered the military mail-handling system, conceded Pamela Floyd, assistant elections director for voter services.
She said military and overseas ballots are not subject to usual postmark rules; the ballots, provided they were signed and dated by Nov. 2, just had to arrive in a county elections office by Nov. 16, the day before certification.
That’s right, despite all the bluster we heard that malfeasance or incompetence on the part of (presumably Democratic) county officials had denied our troops the right to vote, it turns out that ballots statewide were sent out “in time.”
Unfortunately, “in time” isn’t timely enough.
While we certainly need to explore some technological solutions, I’m guessing that if the creative minds in both parties put as much effort into solving this problem as they do into propagandizing it, they just might come up with a simple, immediate fix, like… gee, I don’t know… mailing out the ballots a couple of weeks sooner? Of course, this would require moving our primary from September to the spring — like most of the rest of the nation — a change that has been resisted by legislators on both sides of the aisle.
It may come as quite a surprise to those of us living through the election-that-would-not-die, but a dispassioned (that rules out Stefan) statistical analysis of the error rates will likely show that the procedures in place functioned relatively well. Still, the excruciating closeness and scrutiny of the vote count has clearly uncovered flaws that can and must be fixed.
Ensuring that our military receive their absentee ballots on time should be a noncontroversial addition to the top of our election reform “to do” list. It’s not only the right thing do… we already know how to do it.