Way back during the heat of the 2004 election contest controversy, evidence of duplicate registrations, felon voters and dead people still on the rolls were used to fling charges of incompetence, negligence and corruption at King County Elections. Evergreen Freedom Foundation president Bob Williams even publicly called for elections director Dean Logan to be jailed.
What an asshole. (Williams, that is.)
What these vicious, partisan blowhards conveniently ignored was the fact that for all the duplicate registrations and such, there was very little evidence of double voters, and that these registration irregularities did not just occur in King County, but were endemic across the state and throughout the nation. That’s why as part of the Help America Vote Act, the US Congress had required states to develop statewide voter registration databases… a database WA was in the process of creating in November of 2004.
Well, WA’s database went online this past January — as long scheduled — and yesterday Secretary of State Sam Reed announced that they had culled 55,000 duplicate registrations and dead people from the rolls.
That’s one of the reasons why we spent all this time and money building this database. As for its actual impact on actual voter fraud….
But investigations of the records found very few cases of potential voter fraud. About 30 cases of possible double voting were forwarded to county officials for investigation, Reed said.
In most cases, he said, people moved and forgot to notify their local election offices — a common problem for voting regulators.
“They’ll change their magazine subscriptions and they’ll change a lot of other things, but they don’t bother to contact their elections officials and say, ‘Cancel my registration,’ ” Reed said.
Officials also aren’t aware of any cases of votes cast under the names of deceased people, Reed spokeswoman Trova Heffernan said. Election officials simply had not been notified of the deaths.
Of course, all this comes as a big disappointment to elections conspiracy theorists like our good friend Stefan and the folks at the EFF, where Jonathan Bechtle, director of their Orwellian-named “Voter Integrity Project” used Reed’s announcement as an opportunity to once again slam him and other elections officials:
“It’s an indicator of the systematic problems, and it’s not going to be solved by a couple of months of checking. It has to have some real leadership to change how the system works,”
What an asshole.
Putting aside for a moment the question of how big a problem these “systematic problems” really are, of course it’s not going to be solved in a couple of months… it takes years. Development of the statewide database was initiated well before the 2004 election, and the full benefits won’t be realized until well after its go-live date. Similarly, Dean Logan had only been running KCRE for a little more than year before the infamous gubernatorial statistical-tie put his office under the microscope, at which time he had only begun to implement a series of planned reforms.
To critics like Stefan and the assholes at EFF, every flaw or error is an opportunity for a personal attack. Dean Logan, a quiet, mild-mannered, (dare I say “nebishy”) apolitical technocrat is vilified as the evil mastermind of a corrupt Democratic machine. And we’re told we must put “real leadership” as SOS, because Sam Reed largely chose to honor the obligations of his office over the partisan demands of his Republican Party. (Florida’s Katherine Harris and Ohio’s Kenneth Blackwell represent the GOP model of “real leadership” in an elections official.)
Reed says his office is investigating another 900 registrations that might be from felons who haven’t had their voting rights restored, and while I strongly disagree with our voter disenfranchisement laws, I suppose this is another example of the statewide database doing its job.
And another example of our elections officials doing their jobs as well.