King County Elections Director’s Retirement Sets Off Race for the Most Important Office Nobody’s Heard Of

King County Elections Director Sherril Huff

King County Elections Director Sherril Huff

One of the stoopidest, stoopidest things local voters have done over the 11 years I’ve been covering local politics is to make the King County Elections Director an elected office. This is a position that demands a professional who knows how run elections, not a politician who knows how to run for them. And while it is putatively a nonpartisan office, we all know that’s bullshit.

The last person we want running King County Elections is a director with a political agenda, allegiance, or ambition.

Fortunately, disaster was averted back in February of 2009 when the appointed director, Sherril Huff, won a special election against a six-person field that included the likes of Pam Roach and David Irons Jr. (Irons actually came in second!) And the reason why you’ve heard so little in the press about Huff ever since is that she has done such a damn fine job. Which is why it worries me to read the press release that Huff is retiring:

King County Elections Director Sherril Huff will not seek re-election as King County Elections Director.  She had planned to run for a second full, four year term but will now retire for personal and health considerations.  Huff, who has held the position since 2009, issued the following statement:

“It is with some sadness that I made this decision.  I love my job, my team of dedicated professionals, and the work we do to ensure transparent, efficient elections for the 1.1 million voters in our state’s largest County. I was looking forward to continuing this service, but after consulting with family, friends and colleagues, I am making the right decision to step down after this year.

I’m particularly proud of the advancements we have made in ballot tracking, improving technologies to speed counting and processing, and improving accessibility through vote by mail, drop boxes, multi-language voting materials, and other efforts to increase participation.

I know I am leaving the office in a strong position as a state and national leader, and will enjoy the remaining months in office.”

Huff deserves a ton of credit for restoring confidence in the office in the wake of the controversial 2004 election. So my hope is that Huff has a qualified deputy in the office who the political establishment rally behind awfully damn quick before politics and personal ambition have a chance to corrupt this race. I don’t want a political ally—I want an elections professional. And so should you.

Much to the Republicans’ dismay, Washington is a “voter intent” state; but there is still plenty of room for an elections director to suppress the vote in subtle and nuanced ways. We could tighten up on the signature verification standards, leaving thousands more “challenged” ballots out of the count. We could pull back on our multilingual voter outreach efforts, reducing turnout in immigrant communities. We could scale back on the number of drop boxes in communities of color and on college campuses. In the wake of several elections in which the late ballots broke hard to the left, our new elections director could support the Seattle Times’ incessant call for moving the ballot deadline from postmarked by Election Day to received by Election Day.

There is plenty of opportunity for mischief. Or, the new director could follow in Huff’s methodical footsteps by focusing on improving and speeding the elections process.

Low profile races like this tend to fly far under the radar—voter turnout for the 2009 special election in which Huff first won office was only 22 percent. But considering that fair and impartial elections are the heart of our democracy, in the long run this could end up being one of the most important races on the November ballot.

Open Thread 5/11

- Any civil libertarian who counts on gun nuts to stand with them against government authority is a fool.

So in a completely imaginary world where nearly half the jobs at the city are wiped out, pay is pretty equitable and the gender hiring disparity is pretty small! In the real world, meanwhile, pay isn’t equitable and the gender disparity is significant.

– God, how little sense of humor must Mike Huckabee have now if he was upset about Life Of Brian in his early 20’s?

Anti-vaxxers are more dangerous than you thought

– What the fuck, Rick Scott?

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

Darryl just called to remind me that today is the 11th anniversary of my very first post to HA:

[T]o those upstanding members of the political and media establishment who insist I cannot possibly expect to maintain my credibility as an activist while producing an irreverent and outrageous blog, the Goldy half of me respectfully says: “fuck you.”

Yeah, it’s been a weird 11 years. But rereading that post, I’m proud that I’ve always managed to remain true to myself.

Anyway, thanks for reading me all these years. That’s all any writer can ask for in life: readers.

Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Slate: What is Bastille Day?

Mental Floss: Why do things taste bad after brushing one’s teeth?

Kimmel: This week in unnecessary censorship.

Surveillance State:

Minute Physics: How to subtract by adding.

Congressional hits and misses of the week.

Obama marks 70th anniversary of WWII end:

Jon on Deflate-gate.

Haters Attack a Hate Group:

Reid on the “unconscionable” backlog of judicial nominees.

Slate: A brief history of Godzilla.

Senate Historian: How TV changed the Senate.

Ann Telnaes: What’s a “rough ride”?.

The 2016 Clown Parade:

Mental Floss: 20 facts about the Muppets.

David Pakman: School without sex ed has chlamydia outbreak.

White House: West Wing Week.

Sam Seder: Mitt Romney doesn’t know what “mass incarceration” is.

Jade Helm 15 and Other Conspiracies from the Lunatic Right:

Stop! Or the entire state of Texas will shoot.

David Pakman: Cop accidentally shoots his mother in church…at a wedding.

Money and Politics:

Mental Floss: Misconceptions about English.

Last week’s Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza can be found here.

It Must Be Election Season

When even Bruce Harrell is being pretty badass. I know, he has always been pretty good on police accountability issues, but it’s nice to see him actually saying a lawsuit might be a good idea when police act unreasonably. And while it sure doesn’t take much for the police guild to act like they’re the most put upon people in the world, I’m glad he got under their skin.

Open Thread 5-8

- Congrats to the UK for keeping horrible people in office. At least they won’t have to form a coalition with even more horrible people.

– Sound Transit will miss Joni Earl when she retires.

Murray Releases Revised $930 Million Transportation Levy Proposal

Oil trains are ticking time bombs, and each one passing through a small town in North Dakota or a large city like Seattle is a risk to the people, the property, and the environment of that community. There is no safe way to transport this oil, and local municipalities should not bear the risk while the railways and oil companies rake in all the profit. We urgently need stronger local, state, and federal protections against these dangerous oil trains rolling through our communities.

– I liked reading about the end of the gray wolf in Thurston County, but what I’m most amazed by is an old newspaper using “xpedition.” Did nobody catch that, or was it proper?

Hillary as Nut Cracker

This happened in Washington state a bit over seven years ago:

This story was brought to mind as I was thinking about the upcoming election season—I guess the idea of Hillary bringing down a big slate of almost all males nutjobbers served as a vehicle to invoke the Hillary-as-nut-cracker metaphor, triggering the memory.

Hillary will, in fact, end up running against only one Republican. Even so, almost all the Republican candidates will be running as the anti-Clinton, besides trying to out-conservative, out-gun, out-god, out-science-deny, and out-homophobe the others.

It’s going to be entertaining. More so, if we can get some more televised G.O.P. debates.

And every time a Republican drops out, I’ll be hearing another nut being cracked….

Don’t Hold Your Nose

I’ve been hearing a lot of people saying they don’t want to vote for Hillary Clinton because she’s sooooooo far to the right, and they’ll only vote for her in a general. And, you know, I’m not here to tell you how to vote in a primary where I haven’t even made up my mind yet, but that has always struck me as off.

I mean of the 3 candidates who got furthest in the last contested Democratic primary, her health care plan probably would have covered the most people. I’d have preferred universal single payer, but it wasn’t on offer. During that primary, other Democrats kept attacking her from the right. Her time in the Senate was pretty liberal, especially on domestic issues, and her tenure as Secretary of State was fairly remarkable. And while it’s early days right now, she has also run a fairly lefty campaign so far. This isn’t someone you have to hold your nose for!

Look, if you prefer some other candidate: great! That’s what primaries are for. If her vote on the Iraq war or how she or her surrogates campaigned 8 years ago is a deal breaker: you’re an adult vote how you want. If you think supporting someone else will push her to the left: go for it! But the idea that she’s some awful compromise doesn’t comport with how she has governed or campaigned.

Open Thread 5/6

- Oh hey, public pressure might have actually done something to stop the Arctic drilling fleet from coming to Seattle.

– I never drank as much as the author of this piece, but I can definitely relate to being one of the few non-drinkers by choice at a party.

– I’ve walked there a bunch, but it’ll be nice to try out the bike path is open at Mercer.

– I don’t really follow Canadian politics but it was explained to me at Drinking Liberally that Canada’s Texas just elected a bunch of commies.

On busing and birthday parties (or, My brief encounter with a bus goddess)

Drinking Liberally — Seattle

DLBottlePlease join us for drinks and conversation at this week’s meeting of the Seattle Chapter of Drinking liberally.

We meet tonight and every Tuesday at the Roanoke Park Place Tavern, 2409 10th Ave E, Seattle. Our starting time is 8:00 pm, but some folks stop by earlier for dinner.

Can’t make it to Seattle tonight? Check out one of the other DL meetings this week. The Long Beach, Tri-Cities and West Seattle chapters also meet tonight. The Lakewood chapter meets on Wednesday. And on Thursday, the Tacoma chapter meets.

There are 191 chapters of Living Liberally, including eighteen in Washington state, four in Oregon and two in Idaho. Chances are excellent there’s a chapter meeting somewhere near you.

HA Bible Study: Deuteronomy 12:15-16

Deuteronomy 12:15-16
However, you may slaughter and eat meat within any of your towns, as much as you desire, according to the blessing of the LORD your God that he has given you. The unclean and the clean may eat of it, as of the gazelle and as of the deer. Only you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it out on the earth like water.


Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

James Rustad: “I am Governor LePage”.

Helpful Dos and Don’ts for police officers

The 2016 Clown Parade:

David Pakman: Where’s my apocalypse? Economic collapses are not happening in cities that raise minimum wage

Pap: Mitch McConnell wants to nullify the Constitution.

Forgotten assholes of history: The Brit who invented the Concentration Camp:

Sam Seder: FAUX News blames Obama for young people “trying” to join ISIS.

Baltimore Burning:

Sam Seder: Michele Bachmann is grateful Obama is bringing about “End times”.

David Pakman: Right-Wing lie that Obama is creating mostly low wage jobs is DEBUNKED.

The Daily Show: Getting Congress to “Fucking Cooperate”.

Same Sex Hypocrisy:

Mental Floss: 25 towns that changed their name.

Nepal: Before and After.

White House: The Obama state china service.

Correspondents Dinner:

David Pakman: Anti-Clinton author admits he has no evidence of wrongdoing.

Rep. Pelosi on the GOP bill to allow employers to control reproductive freedoms in D.C..

Mark Fiore: Commander-in-Drone.

Corruption is Legal in America:

James Rustad: “DEA Sex Party Song”.

Same Sex Marriage:

Mental Floss: Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

Thom: The Good, The Bad, and the Very, Very, Petulcously Ugly!

Dancing dots show Congressional divide.

IAF: 10 facts about Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Bernie Sanders declares:

Greenman: Mike Mann on “hide the decline”.

Maddow: America’s new views on criminal justice.

Last week’s Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza can be found here.

I’m a Jolly Good Fellow (But a Mean Fisker)

So, my day job hasn’t changed, but after six months of working for Nick Hanauer I finally have something official to print on a business card: I am a Senior Fellow at Civic Ventures, a public policy incubator. (And if you’re wondering what makes me “senior,” it’s that I’m the only fellow old enough to qualify for AARP.)

Anyway, in addition to the new name, we also have a new blog—Civic Skunkworks—to which I proudly posted today the blog’s first fisking:

Tim Worstall not only has a byline at Forbes and a fellowship at the impressive-sounding Adam Smith Institute, he also spells “labour” with that fancy extra “u,” so he must be a smart guy who knows an awful lot about economics, right? But then you read his actual words and, well, not so much…

Watch Worstall plot a demand curve from a single data point, and then watch me tear him a new one. Enjoy!