The Seattle Times reports today that the Rossi camp is complaining about a number of rejected provisional ballots that were found to have had their envelopes opened. Interesting. But I actually chuckled at the article’s lead:
Republicans yesterday found what they say is a new reason to question King County’s handling of ballots cast in the November election.
Come on… we all know the Republicans have only one reason to question King County Elections… it’s good politics.
This is a particularly stupid issue, and shows how desperately they are grasping at rhetorical straws. Generally, provisional ballots are left sealed in their security envelopes unless they are verified. But KC Elections spokeswoman Bobbie Egan explained that the envelopes in question were opened under standard procedure, to determine whether voters had used ballots appropriate to their home precincts. Most provisional ballots don’t have to be opened, because the outside envelope includes enough notation to indicate the type of ballot.
“Procedures were followed,” Egan said. “We’re not hiding anything. This is no smoking gun. This is something that both parties had full knowledge of during the 15-day window after Election Day.”
She said the process “was highly scrutinized by party observers during this time, and it is absolutely ridiculous that they waited to politicize this process five months after the election. There were no requests by the dozens of party observers to change procedures during the time these ballots were handled.”
Sheryl Moss, certification-and-training-program manager for the secretary of state, said neither state nor federal law prohibits opening provisional-ballot envelopes before voters’ eligibility is determined.
Provisional ballots have less secrecy than other ballots, Moss said, because election workers are required to verify that the voter’s votes are counted only for candidates or issues he or she is eligible to vote on.
Of course, GOPolitburo Chair Chris Vance isn’t mollified:
“There’s no good possible explanation for it,” Vance said.
Um… there is a good explanation for it, and both Egan and Moss gave it. The envelopes were opened according to procedure and law, under the scrutiny of observers from both parties. For Vance to imply that there is something shady about this, is to imply fraud… and that is exactly what that shameless, lying bastard is implying.
Well… prove it.
But then, while Republicans have quite skillfully hurled allegations, actually proving things isn’t exactly their strong suit. No wonder Dino Rossi’s attorneys filed a brief yesterday in Chelan County, in which they make the absurd contention that when it comes to their suspect list of alleged felons, the burden should fall on the Democrats to prove that they are not illegal voters… an argument so outrageous, you’d think Stefan was leading their legal team. (And why not… he’s a self-proclaimed expert at everything else.)
In any case, such a contention is wholly unsupported by RCW 29.A.08.810, which clearly states:
Registration of a person as a voter is presumptive evidence of his or her right to vote at any primary or election, general or special.
And Judge Bridges further enunciated this basic principle — that the burden of proof falls on the challengers — when he stated:
Our Supreme Court has observed that election officers are presumed to have complied with the duties required of them in an honest and careful manner. That was the Quigley case. And also in Quigley the Court noted that the returns of any election official are entitled to the presumption of regularity….
Perhaps his attorneys and party officials misled Rossi into believing he actually stood a chance of prevailing in court, but whatever his personal motivation, his surrogates have clearly been more focused on the public relations battle than the legal one.
Anybody who has ever worked on the giving or receiving end of a well-planned PR campaign can see that the steady stream of GOP allegations and photo ops are part of an ambitious strategy to consistently hit a weekly news cycle. Sometimes they are fortunate to have real news fill the gap — like the 94 uncounted absentee ballots — but most of the media flaps have been entirely manufactured. Slade Gorton making an ass out of himself demanding a criminal investigation… accusations that Cheryl Scott can’t be trusted because she’s (gasp) contributed to Democrats in a heavily Democratic state… mock outrage over provisional ballot envelopes Republican observers quietly watched being opened five months ago… these have all been neatly penciled in on a media calendar pinned to the cubicle wall of some Rossi PR consultant.
I have no doubt that early on, blinded by an irrational fear and hatred of “the other,” some GOP operatives actually believed that if they looked hard enough, they would surely find conclusive evidence of a stolen election. But that hope has long since faded for all but the most faithful rank and file. What started as specific charges of Democratic corruption and disenfranchised military voters has gradually morphed into the vague and inchoate message that the election was a “total mess.”
The Republican propaganda machine attempts to paint this Jackson Pollock like image of an election gone awry, by splattering allegations here, or revealing them in dribs and drabs there. But to have a complete and accurate picture of this election, it must be remembered that no matter how many errors are discovered, on however many different occasions — and no matter how torturously long and twisted is the public narrative revealing these errors — they all occurred during the same 15-day period, under the intense scrutiny of the media, and observers from both parties.
It may fuel the Republican PR campaign to focus on when the errors were discovered or revealed to the public. But the only questions that really matter are: How many errors occurred? Did they change the outcome of the election? How did they happen? And how can we prevent them in the future?
Everything else is bullshit.