February 10, 2005
Report from Vancouver
Ray B., who frequently posts comments under the name "north clark county", sends us this report from tonight's election reform meeting in Vancouver:
The governor's Election Reform Task Force held their first meeting in Vancouver on Thursday night. About 150 people were in attendance, including Rep. Richard Curtis of LaCenter and Rep. Toby Nixon of Kirkland. Also in attendance were the auditors from Clark and Skamania counties and elections directors from Cowlitz and Clark counties.
After a 20 minute presentation by Secretary of State Reed giving an overview of the elections process and some of the proposed reforms, the panel opened the floor for statement or questions. Because of time constraints and the number of people, the limited each person to two minutes. Many of those in attendance were decked in orange in some fashion, and a number of them stated their support of a revote for governor.
The main themes of the comments for the panel regarded making sure that our military got their ballots in time to vote, making sure that the election roles were cleansed and only legitimate voters allowed to register, holding elections officials legally responsible for not following laws and rules, holding illegal voters legally responsible for casting illegal votes, cleaning up King County elections and increasing the time between the primary and the general election. Oh, did I mention revote?
While a majority of speakers echoed these common themes, there were a few others. Two Green Party members supported Instant Runoff Voting. One person wondered how many people would be so passionate if their candidate had won the election. Another wondered why we would want a revote with the same broken system.
The hope I took from the meeting was that appeared that SoS Reed was almost visably shaken by the loss of faith in the electoral system. I could see how simply reading about what people think about the election system didn't convey the passion that people expressed verbally. He also expressed that he heard the need for meaningful reform, not just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Each member of the panel seemed to appreciate the number of people attending and appeared to hear that people were wanted true reform, not just a few fixes like Ron Simms suggests.
Josh Poulson also has a report
. The Seattle Times
has its report up now
. It seems to be an orange victory!
The next public meeting is Monday, Feb. 14 6-8 pm at Highline Community College in Des Moines. That will be the only one of the four meetings to be held in King, Pierce or Snohomish counties.
Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at February 10, 2005
10:44 PM | Email This
1. That is Monday the 14th at Highline.
2. oops. thanks. corrected!
I forgot to add one more point. The last speaker of the evening was a young man who did not come to speak, but was inspired by what he heard. He stated that he was probably in a much different demographic than most everyone else in attendance. He was young, self-described as working poor with four kids to support. He heard a number of people call for verification of citizenship, including yours truly.
This was his first time voting. He said that he recently had to spend $18 dollars to get a copy of his birth certificate from California. He found it very hard to come up with that $18. But he added that if had to come up with $18 to prove he was a citizen and entitled to vote, that he would be proud to do so.
It was the perfect way to end the comments.
4. Cupid obviously didn't choose the February 14 public meeting date! So why are all of us in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties offered only the opportunity to participate in the process on Valentine's Day?
Stefan, forget the email I sent you..Looks like the date thing is handled...
First a BIG THANK YOU to all that attended and reported back on the meeting! For those of us unable to get out it makes all the difference! Now I can gird myself to suffer the MSM reports and spin on the same meeting. What will be interesting is to see if the MSM Seattle papers spin a little less because of the Democracy of the News brought about by the blogs.
Question: Is there some way to live feed at least the audio of the meeting at Highline? Blog, KVI or somebody? Us housebound voters would appreciate it!
7. Thanks for the pointer.
8. Keith: Answer--so there's less chance you and I will show up.
Tonight’s RALLY FOR A REVOTE/ election reform forum was heard loud and clear at Clark College in Vancouver.
I estimate that there were around 200 supporters of REVOTE and REAL Election reform.
People came from all over South West Washington and from numerous counties unified in their message, a voice that was heard over and over again. That we want real election reform not just lip service. That violators of elections laws MUST be Prosecuted, that our troops serving in the military deserve the right to vote. That King County Must Be Held Responsible for allowing illegal voters to vote, and that we need to clean house in Olympia before any election reform will be allowed to happen.
Every time someone stood at the Mic and said “I support a Revote” applause rang out loud and clear. There were one or two opposition voices in the crowd but they were uneventful and barely noticed. Time and time again Sam Reed and the panel were told to take this message back to Olympia.
I was proud to be there, and proud of all who were there in support of truth.
Many people thanked me for speaking, but what really sticks in my mind are the two mature ladies with the white hair that thanked me. I think there are a lot of people who hope that we can bring about change and set the record straight, and if tonight is an example of what is to come at future Election reform forums then “99.98%” are in favor of REVOTE !!
We had our local cable access recording the meeting for later broadcast. We'll get to see in for the first time on Sunday. Perhaps one of the meetings might show up on TVW, or cable access might be at Highline.
11. Does Highline also have youth nazis there to protest anyone that doesn't eat breansprouts?
The Sea Times article quotes Sam Reed as saying,
Reed, a Republican, said he got the message. "One very big message is people are losing trust in the system," he told the audience at the end of the hearing. "That is scary to me."
Uh, Sam, that should be have lost trust,
not are losing trust.
13. The Oregonian
has a report
posted as well.
The 20 minute presentation by SOS Sam Reed could have been reduced to 5 minutes. This would have better facilitated the purpose of the meeting, obtaining public input. The 2 minute limit on citizen comments seemed stingy compared to the time the panel, and mostly SOS Reed took.
Reed informed us that in WA, the head elections officers are elected. I felt compelled to point out in King County alone, where the election irregularities are still being counted, an appointed elections official heads the department.
He also explained that provisional ballots used to be called something else. I called the Clark County elections office this AM for clarification.
Previously, provisional ballots were called "question" ballots. Apparently this is because there were questions about whether this was a valid vote, and further verification to see if a legally registered voter had cast it was required before a "question" ballot could be counted. They estimated that about 8 years ago, the term changed to "special" ballot. In fall of 2004, the term "provisional" ballot was adopted.
I think the term "question" ballot is the most descriptive.
It turns out that more proof of age and residency was required for me to sign up a child for Little League (in person) than is required to register to vote. Shouldn't proof of age, citizensship, and residency be required in person to register and re-register in WA to clean up the voter files and help insure only legally qualified votes are counted?
I hope citizens will be provided more time in future meetings.
15. PS. SOS Reed also explained that WA state has one of the best training programs for elections officials in the nation.
In the wrap up, most at the meeting favored an earlier primary, with just a handful not in favor.
August seems reasonable so that legislators in session as late as June have a break before the election.
As for changing the date so ballots would have to be received on or before election day, most seemed to favor maintaining the due date being postmarked on or before election day for absentee ballots. Citizens expressed far more concern about accuracy than speed. I certainly favor keeping the postmark on or before election day so that voters who wait to consider all available public information before voting can do so. This includes last minute campaign cash infusions that are routine.
As for the all mail elections, it seems that many value voting at the polls and the ability to return absentee ballots at polling sites rather than trust the mail system. Currently, the widespread use of permanent absentee ballots for in-state residents combined with little verification of registration information leaves a lot of room for error/fraud.
If we have 'one of the best training programs for elections officials', then sloppiness seems a lot less likely.
I'd like a little more transparency down to the precinct level - because it seems like individual precincts have (sometimes) been run 'perfectly'. Which precinct officer was it that "left ballots in the side pocket"? Which was it that left them under the machine? Those sorts of issues are on the itemized checklist that the paired D & R workers are supposed to sign off on before the machines and ballots are carried off.
By allowing this scrutiny, you'll have poll workers talking back at the bosses "No, I _SIGNED_OFF_ on this precinct, I have no idea where you got those ballots, but they were NOT there..."
The forum last night was awesome. We heard some very positive suggestions from people representing all walks of life.
SOS spent way too much time on his presentation. His presentation seemed to be mostly focused on "CYA" (Cover Your A_ _). But he did offer a couple of good reforms like requiring all the counties to certify on the same day.
The Orgonian's report is bogus. The spin is ridiculous. The forum didn't turn into a revote rally. Yes, there were calls for a re-vote, but for the most part people stuck to the theme of election reform.
One constant echo I heard was people saying what good are new election reform laws when people don't follow them anyway. So many requests focused on doing a thourough investigation with criminal charges brought against those who broke the current laws we already have on the books.
Our current election laws evolved from a time when every one in a community knew everyone else. If someone who was not eligible to vote showed up at the polls, then the election workers or anyone in the polling place could challenge the vote and that person was given a question ballot. This is where the burden of challenging a vote by individuals and not the elections department came from.
Now in today’s society, we hardly know our neighbors, much less everyone in our precincts. To add to that, we now have permanent absentee ballots and a move to voting by mail. With the Motor Voter Law, everyone that gets a drivers license is registered to vote. Do you know how easy it is for an illegal alien to get a drivers license? How are individuals supposed to know who is eligible to vote and who is voting multiple times?
It is time to shift the burden of challenging votes and identifying illegal voters from individuals and add a requirement that our election officials be required to confirm citizenship, purge the deceased and felons not reinstated. Absentee ballots should not be sent to individuals who register at PO Boxes and Storage facilities.
Provisional ballots should be a different size or color. It the end up mixed in with the regular ballots, they should be automatically deemed invalid (You have lost the connection to the Identity of the Provisional Voter and can no longer tell if it is valid or invalid).
An error rate of .2% is inexcusable. A recent TV ad from a banking institutions says “ We learned to accurately handle one check and then repeat it 11 billion times”. Our elections departments need to accurately handle each vote and then repeat it millions of times.
20. Citizens who hope to see the Highline meeting might want to check with the govt. TV stations and even request coverage since it is an issue of interest statewide. If anyone knows, it would be helpful to post that here.
For those who are unable to attend a meeting of the task force, here's a web page that gives you a way to provide some comments on their proposals and a couple of proposals of your own:
The feedback form is at a link in the menu in the upper left side of the page at that URL.
If any of you have been reading the bills already introduced in the legislature, I would appreciate knowing what you think about the ones I've already mentioned at "Croker Sack."
Optimistic blogger: Someone who posts a comment long after the "string" has played out and expects anyone to respond.
Thanks for the pointer.