I had my half hour on the Carlson show this afternoon — which I think, after subtracting commercials, traffic reports and other interstitials, came to about four-and-a-half minutes of air time — and then Stefan had his turn. After calling me “sweet” and complimenting my fiction writing skills (oooh… I think he likes me,) Stefan ran out of canned outrage, so John had to change the subject to (dramatic chord) the felon vote.
Carla over at Preemptive Karma recently deboned some of the red herrings flapping about over Republican charges that a thousand-plus felons voted illegally in the November election. Carla points out that by making felons the crux of their election contest, Rossi’s attorneys have constructed a legal catch-22:
Rossi’s people (and the State GOP) are complaining that taking affadavits from felons is a nonstarter because a felon can’t be trusted to swear to the truth. Too damn bad. The law is the law. Rossi must prove that enough illegal votes went to Gregiore to tip the election to her (RCW 29A.68.110).
Mary Lane complains that the convicted felons can’t be placed on the stand because they’re criminals.
Maybe you guys should have thought of that before you hung your contest on the illegal felon vote, Mary.
My guess is, the Rossi people have thought of that. I can’t vouch for Rossi himself, but his lawyers ain’t dumb; they understand they have to do a helluva lot more than just prove there are more illegal votes than Gregoire’s margin of error. So I’m guessing this attempted hoo-hah over the thousand felons, actually has very little to do with legal strategy.
My intuition is reinforced by the fact that the Rossi campaign has focused its media efforts, not on the possible impact of felons voting, but on King County’s alleged negligence for allowing felons to vote in the first place.
Understand, these allegations can have no legal impact whatsoever. The court has already ruled that votes by felons will be contested as illegal votes under the statute — blaming them on official misconduct cannot change their status.
So why the extralegal effort to blame King County Elections for voting felons? Well this has long since ceased to be about winning an election contest. This is about delegitimizing the Gregoire Administration in particular, and Democrats in general.
Allegations of negligence or corruption against King County are so far off, they would be funny… assuming you find vicious, hateful slander funny. The (un)Sounders have ridiculed Dean Logan for saying that his department only has the authorization (and the ability) to remove felons from the roles when notified by the courts. But that’s exactly what RCW 29A.08.520 says… at least, through the end of the year:
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.
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.
Get it? On Jan 1, 2006, the law changes, requiring counties to do exactly what Republicans are accusing King County of not doing. Not surprisingly, that’s also the date the Secretary of State’s database is scheduled to go live… the database that actually makes purging the rolls of felons possible. As I’ve said before, if the current statute actually granted county officials the authority and ability to routinely purge felons from the rolls, the Legislature wouldn’t be adding a provision that grants county officials the authority and ability to purge felons from the rolls.
At the end of the show, John Carlson accused Democrats of being “utterly disinterested” in illegitimate votes, and he challenged his listeners to come up with the name of a single Democrat who has shown alarm or dismay at the thought of felons voting. Well John, I’d say that SSB 6419 — the bill that amended the statute above — showed quite a bit of concern over the issue of felons voting. And considering it unanimously passed both houses of the Legislature last March, I’m pretty damn sure you’ll find more than a handful of Democrats who supported it… not to mention former Governor Gary Locke, who signed it into law.
No… none of this is really about the 2004 gubernatorial election. This is about control of the Legislature in 2006, and more specifically, the governor’s race in 2008.
Welcome to the meanest, ugliest, longest campaign in state history.