Before the start of today’s King County Council Meeting, I shook hands with Stefan… and the universe didn’t explode. So I guess us bloggers are just ordinary folk after all.
I didn’t really expect there to be much news generated at this meeting, as it mostly consisted of KC Elections Director Dean Logan presenting his previously released report on the November election. But there actually were a couple issues he cleared up. (At least in my mind… maybe not in the minds of some of the slower councilfolk.)
Military & Overseas Ballots
According to Logan these ballots are one and the same, and they are all mailed in postage paid envelopes provided by the federal government. Thus there is no bulk mail account or third-party mailing house with records to check. They were delivered directly to the post office, by the Oct. 8 deadline… and an internal department log confirms this.
This seemed perfectly clear to me and other members of the audience, but not apparently to Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who followed up by asking Logan if he was aware that the mailing house didn’t send these out until Oct. 13. Um… KC didn’t use a mailing house for these ballots, and Logan repeated that they were mailed out on Oct. 8. Additional military & overseas ballots went out as requests came in.
So as expected, this is a non-issue.
There have been conflicting reports as to the process by which ballots were enhanced. Some reports say election workers used redacting tape, and then marked over the tape. Some reports claim workers marked the ballots directly. It turns out, both are true.
In cases where the worker could fill in the oval without obscuring the original mark, the ballot was enhanced directly… for example, where the voter circled the oval, and the election worker filled it in. Logan showed a slide illustrating just that. However, where filling in the oval would have obscured the mark — such as in a partially filled in oval — redacting tape was placed over the oval, and then the worker marked the tape. In all cases, the enhancement was done by a two-person team with an observer present, and a log of the changes were kept as required by law.
Just to be sure, I confirmed this with Logan after the meeting. So again… this is a non-issue.
The Felon Vote
Logan says that the department has passed on to the prosecutors office a list of about 100 suspected felon votes. The prosecutor will investigate, and pass on to the sheriff’s office those cases that warrant further investigation. This is the standard procedure, but when asked, Logan did not know of a single case in which a felon has been prosecuted for voting.
Councilmember Steve “I love grandmothers” Hammond attempted to grandstand on this and other issues, demanding “a head to roll” for election worker errors. But as Logan explained, the felon vote was not due to election worker error, as they do not currently have the ability or the authority to perform background checks on registered voters. To back up this claim, Logan cited RCW 29A.08.520:
Felony conviction. (Effective until January 1, 2006.)
Upon receiving official notice of a person’s conviction of a felony in either state or federal court, if the convicted person is a registered voter in the county, the county auditor shall cancel the defendant’s voter registration.
That’s it. When the county receives notice from the court of a felony conviction, the felon is removed from the rolls. But there is no statutory authority to do so at any other time, and indeed no way to do so without a centralized database.
Hammond suggested that background checks would fit with the spirit of the law. And newly minted Councilmember Reagan Dunn (who eerily resembles Liev Shreiber’s character in “The Manchurian Candidate”, in both appearance, manner and um… circumstance) took the opportunity to tout his experience as a federal prosecutor in pointing out that, well… I’m not really sure what he was pointing out, except that he put a lot of bad people behind bars and there’s gotta be an awful lot more felons on the rolls than King County realizes.
Which may be true. But what both Hammond and Dunn fail to acknowledge is that it’s all really a moot point. If they were paying attention to Logan’s explanation, and had bothered to read the RCW, they would have noticed that the current statute expires on Jan. 1, 2006, and is replaced with the following:
Felony conviction. (Effective January 1, 2006.)
Upon receiving official notice of a person’s conviction of a felony in either state or federal court, if the convicted person is a registered voter in the county, the county auditor shall cancel the defendant’s voter registration. Additionally, the secretary of state in conjunction with the department of corrections shall arrange for a periodic comparison of a list of known felons with the statewide voter registration list. If a person is found on the department of corrections felon list and the statewide voter registration list, the secretary of state or county auditor shall confirm the match through a date of birth comparison and cancel the voter registration from the official state voter registration list. The canceling authority shall send notice of the proposed cancellation to the person at his or her last known voter registration address.
Now maybe I’m naive, but my take is that if the statute actually granted county officials the authority and ability to routinely purge the rolls of felons, the Legislature wouldn’t be adding a provision that grants county officials the authority and ability to routinely purge the rolls of felons. This change is required by the federal HAVA act, and becomes effective by the federal deadline, coinciding with completion by the Secretary of State of the statewide database that makes its provisions possible.
Did felons vote? Sure. Was it King County’s fault? No. Shouldn’t we do something about this? We already are.
So, if Dino Rossi can prove that the felon vote changed the outcome of this election, then I guess he’ll be named governor. But if you’re looking for proof of corruption or incompetence in King County Elections… you’ll have to look elsewhere.
I hadn’t meant to write in such detail, so I’m going to post Part I now, and then post Part II upon it’s completion. Coming up… Provisional Ballots and the so-called “Discrepancy.”
[For more information, read King County’s 2004 Elections Report.]
Read Part II.