August 09, 2006
More on the bogus finding in the voter registration court case

I have more details confirming my report that the recent federal court injunction, forbidding Washington State from verifying the identities of voter registration applicants, was based on bogus evidence. And there's an ironic twist here -- one of the voters whom the plaintiffs (a coalition of voter registration activists) claimed was disenfranchised by the state really was disenfranchised -- but not by the state -- by a voter registration activist. I get my information from an aide to Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey, who graciously responded to my inquiry about the voters who filed declarations in the lawsuit.

To summarize, two voters from Clark County, Lisa Oldham and Marina Petrienko, filed declarations claiming that the state improperly prevented them from registering to vote. On the basis of these declarations, Judge Ricardo S. Martinez ruled that

plaintiffs have adequately demonstrated irreparable harm
and on that basis Martinez essentially annulled Washington's voter registration statutes. But the finding of "irreparable harm" is poppycock. The Clark County Auditor's office verified what I already concluded from examining election records -- neither Oldham nor Petrienko could have voted even if their registrations had been accepted -- they didn't live in any of the jurisidictions that have subsequently held special elections. Clark County provided some additional information which should undermine the validity of Petrienko's and especially Oldham's declarations --

1) Once Clark County became aware of the clerical error that they made processing Petrienko's registration, she was registered and is now eligible to vote. But Petrienko really did miss an opportunity to vote. She was disenfranchised by the misconduct of the voter registration activist who took her registration form. More below.

2) Lisa Oldham, whose attempted registration of February 22 was "fatal pended" because she registered under her maiden name and provided a drivers license number under her married name, was properly sent a letter of this form on March 2.

3) I asked the Auditor what is required to resolve this type of discrepancy on a voter registration application. The reply:

The voter can return the correspondence, with the information provided; verify and provide information over the phone; make a personal visit to the elections office. The time required to resolve the issue is normally minimal, as it usually requires just providing/verifying numbers. There are some instances when we ask the voter to provide a copy of a document, but they can come into our office and we will make the copy.
What did Oldham do in response to the letter? Clark County says: "We do not show we had any communication with Ms. Oldham."

4) This all makes Lisa Oldham's sworn statement look at best ridculous and at worst perjurous:

I had planned to vote in the May 16, 2006 special election but did not try to do so because I knew I was not registered and would not be able to vote.
But it gets even worse. Even if, hypothetically, Oldham did live in a district that voted on May 16 and had not been able to resolve the matter by that day it is not true that she "would not be able to vote". Clark County:
Had Ms. Oldham requested to vote and she was not registered at the time of an election, she would have been given a provisional ballot and the County Canvassing Board would determine if the ballot could/could not be counted.
That would at least have given her more time to resolve the registration matter, and it would have taken hardly any effort on her part.

5) Now back to Petrienko. Her declaration states that she attempted to register on December 15, 2005 by completing a registration form and submitting it to a person conducting a voter registration drive. Her submitted form, attached to her declaration as Exhibit A, carries the stamp "IN PERSON ORG .. JAN 12 2006". Clark County explains that the stamp means that a voter registration organization submitted the form to an elections office on that date. Oops. According to state law (RCW 29A.08.115), the voter registration organization was required to submit her registration form within a week, in this case certainly no later than December 23. As it turns out, the organization's delay caused Petrienko to lose her right to vote in an election. Petrienko was legally registered to vote on the day her form was turned in, January 12, and was therefore eligible to vote 30 days later, in this case February 11. Her Precinct, #648, voted in the February 7 special election and Petrienko would have been eligible to vote in this election had the organization turned in her form on or before January 8, which they apparently failed to do, in violation of state law.

The lesson in all of this is that both government employees, voters and voter registration activists can and do make occasional errors in every stage of the voter registration process. These errors can prevent eligible votes from being counted and can cause ineligible votes to be counted. The solution is not to dismantle sensible laws that improve integrity without posing an undue burden on voters. The solution is to increase public oversight on the entire process. After all, if the plaintiffs simply monitor the voter records looking out for rejected applications, all they have to do is to notify both the rejected voters and the election officials about any errors and how to correct them. That would do so much more to ensure integrity all around than opening the door to an uncontrollable number of bogus applications.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at August 09, 2006 05:09 PM | Email This
Comments
1. And once again Stephan, your solution is far too clear and sensible. Logic is beyond these people. I've become a bit of a cynic as a result, but not to the point where I don't think there is hope.

Posted by: TedR on August 9, 2006 05:52 PM
2. Obviously, the voter registration activists don't really care about these women and their right to vote. What they care about is their activist goal of reducing any and all restrictions and security for voting.

Much crying and whining comes from the left regarding the sanctity of the right to vote. But most people choose not to use this right for many elections. And when they do choose to vote, it's often not from the intellectual position of careful analysis of the merits of the issues and candidates, but from the emotional position of being convinced by a television commerical, a doorbelling activist, an issue which appeals to their feelings, or simply the emotion of tying themselves to a particular party affiliation.

And this is exactly what registration activists want. By making voting as easy as possible, they assure that the system will remain open to whim and emotional appeals to various classes, and emotions of guilt, envy, etc. Karl Marx would be proud. Voters of the world, unite.

Posted by: Jeff B. on August 9, 2006 06:18 PM
3. And you know this case is a joke as are the plaintiff's lawyers and the judge when a blogger is the one uncovering the most salient details.

Posted by: Jeff B. on August 9, 2006 06:22 PM
4. "I would not have learned this if I had not been contacted by the lawyers for the plaintiffs in this case."

Maybe these lawyers should work in the elections department - they certainly find the errors and find a way to get the voter to respond.

If she didn't know about her registration status, she didn't go to the election department or the lawyers - how was she found? Were the lawyers comparing registration cards to records in the database?

In Oldham's case - she did herself a disservice. On her registration form she uses her maiden name. Then she uses her married drivers license. Then she uses her maiden name SS number. She claims that the state "knows" she's married. How? where on the registration for does it ask marital status? Where does it ask for maiden name? She's effectively trying to register using two different names.

Why didn't she just use her Graham name and her Graham DL and skip the SS number?

To blame the confusion on the state is stupid.

What name is she employed under? If it is Graham, hasn't she had issues with SS and her taxes, since she hasn't changed her SS document?

Why wasn't ANY of this questioned at the trial? Whoever represented the state did a pretty pitiful job.

Posted by: SouthernRoots on August 9, 2006 07:08 PM
5. As I posted Aug-1st and 4th, is the Washington Secretary of State and/or the Attorney General's office going to appeal this ruling?

Will there be any sanctions against the plantiff's counsel for making misleading statements?

Why did the Secretary of State and/or the Attorney General not dispute the facts before Judge Martinez made a ruling?

Posted by: Green Lake Mark on August 9, 2006 07:21 PM
6. Green Lake: Because they are either too lazy or incompetent to do the kind of research Stefan does with the same available data.

Posted by: katomar on August 9, 2006 09:12 PM
7. S Root,

She probably did it on purpose just for the ability to help bring a case.

I don't know that, but based on radical liberals (WTO rioters, ELF burning homes, dem staffers falsifying docs to get SS #'s) I can see her doing it. Am I cynical? Sure. But based on fundamental behaviors and patterns how can I not be.

Posted by: Dengle on August 9, 2006 09:16 PM
8. Green Lake Mark,

Good news: This is just a preliminary injunction to get Sam Reed to stop checking to see if people actually exist during this election season, not the final ruling.

Bad news: With his strong wording, the judge seems unlikely to rule in a different direction when the actual ruling comes out.

Good news: But the final ruling can be appealed.

Bad news: To the Ninth Circuit.

Posted by: TB on August 9, 2006 10:11 PM
9. Anyone who still believes what Soundpolitics has to say about elections law really needs to go back and compare this blog's statements about the election-challenge lawsuit with Judge Bridges' ruling. (Note the total lack of any agreement.)

Since Election Day 2004, the Republican Party of this state has three times attempted to disenfranchise legitimate voters. It did so once during the recount, once with the challenge lawsuit, and once in October 2005, filing hundreds of feloniously bogus challenges against legitimate voters. A total of ten judges rejected the first two attempts, and local elections officials took a dim view of the few challenges that survived the firestorm of negative publicity. Claiming that 320 Cedar STREET, in Seattle, is really 320 Cedar AVENUE, in Forks (!) , did little for the Republicans' credibility on elections statutes.

This state has a Republican Attorney General, and several Republican federal prosecutors have authority over this region. When we see one of them take up this case, against the plaintiffs mentioned in this post, we'll have reason to believe that it's more than just more warm, wet vapor from the gastro-intestinal tracts of local bloggers.

Posted by: Paddy Mac on August 9, 2006 10:42 PM
10. Paddy Mac: Will you please just take your bone and go rolling home? You completely and consistently ignore hard evidence reproduced for months on this site, and instead spew rhetoric. What a waste.

Posted by: katomar on August 9, 2006 10:55 PM
11. Paddy Mac, your commentary here is an exercise in self-parody, but in response to the serious readers who might wonder why the (Republican) Attorney General didn't do a better job of defending this lawsuit. One attorney who observed the trial e-mailed this: "The discovery schedule in the case was extremely short (the shortest I've ever seen)." Another observer told me "it sounds like the Brennan Center sprung those two voters at the last minute, and the judge bought it."

Posted by: Stefan Sharkansky on August 9, 2006 11:25 PM
12. Stefan -- have you e-mailed your investigation results in this matter to Attorney General Rob McKenna and the assistant AG's that he has assigned to work on this case?

Posted by: Richard Pope on August 9, 2006 11:31 PM
13. Richard -- I've e-mailed my findings on this to senior officials at both the Attorney General and Secretary of State.

Posted by: Stefan Sharkansky on August 9, 2006 11:37 PM
14. I find it amusing that these lefties pretent to be so scared of government intruding in their lives with collecting too much information, but then blames the government for not having enough data on them for the government to cross-check names to confirm they are the same person!

It is the government's responsibility to collect information on everyone and correct their forms rather than the individual's responsibility to put accurate and current information on the form.

How lefties can reconcile this internally is beyond me.

Posted by: Fred on August 10, 2006 08:44 AM
15. The most important question here is, why was this case so poorly defended? If Stefan, who has a business to run and a blog to manage, can easily find evidence refuting the claims of the plaintiffs, why could not an assistant Attorney General, who is paid to do the work? I think that Rob McKenna has some explaining to do. The pace of cases in Federal Court would certainly allow enough time to do the work.

Posted by: David Onkels on August 10, 2006 11:24 AM
16. Soundpolitics has made two posts on this ruling. Assuming that everything in them is true (which would make them the 3rd and 4th Signs of the Apocalypse, respectively) the law in question would still be unconstitutional. Voting is a right, not a privilege, and a state cannot deny this right because a clerk-- or even a voter-- made a typographical error.

Furthermore, this state has a political party which really hates our voting rights, to the point of filing three sets of bogus claim s (within one year!) to deny legitimate votes to legal voters. So long as our rights remain under such malicious attack, we need to defend them more forcefully than ever.

"...but in response to the serious readers who might wonder why the (Republican) Attorney General didn't do a better job of defending this lawsuit. One attorney who observed the trial e-mailed this: 'The discovery schedule in the case was extremely short (the shortest I've ever seen).' Another observer told me 'it sounds like the Brennan Center sprung those two voters at the last minute, and the judge bought it.'

Well, we liberals have complained for quite some time about President Bush's judicial appointees, haven't we? Glad that you (and your conveniently-anonymous observers) may finally have seen the light!

In the election-challenge lawsuit, the plaintiffs had six months in which to discover a single piece of evidence to support their claims, and they failed completely to do so. In this context, the length of time for discovery seems to hold no great relevance. In any case, attorneys for either side can file a motion to extend discovery, or to bring legal remedy against recalcitrant witnesses.

"Richard -- I've e-mailed my findings on this to senior officials at both the Attorney General and Secretary of State."

Did they inform you as to the near-impossibility of bringing perjury charges against testimony which was completely accepted by the court?

Posted by: Paddy Mac on August 10, 2006 11:25 PM
17. Paddy @ #16 -

Who said anything about perjury?

Paddy, I really do think you've wound yourself up a bit too tight on this issue.

Posted by: ewaggin on August 11, 2006 12:08 AM
18. Paddy-whack is a pathetic critter - a true example of obsessive-compulsive behavior. He/she/it can't let the court decision on the 2004 election fiasco go - even though his/her/its side won! The ruling in that case does not, in any way, illegitimize the struggle for election reform, or diminish the degree to which the Dhimmicrats in this state have skewed & screwed things up.

There is a saying that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing - I guess because a limited or flawed understanding of the wrong thing could lead to other incorrect assumptions with potentially dangerous consequences. Fortunately for us, paddy-whack doesn't have enough knowledge to be anything more than a gnat on the windshield of life. Not only is he/she/it harmless, he/she/it is irrelevant

paddy-whack - go back to eating your crayolas...

Posted by: Insane People for Can't.vote.well on August 11, 2006 08:09 AM
19. "Voting is a right, not a privilege, and a Thatstate cannot deny this right because a clerk-- or even a voter-- made a typographical error."

Wrong. Voting is a "conditional" right. You can not walk off the street and vote for anything, anywhere, any time. The 15th, 19th and 26th Amendments prevent you from being denied the right to vote due to race, color, sex and being age 18 or older. The 24th Amendment removed the poll tax from FEDERAL elective offices.

States legally can set up additional conditions to the right to vote. They have. Citizenship, Age, Residence, Registration, and felon with restored rights.

The fact is, these women had many opportunities to correct any issues with their registration and didn't do it. They also have the right to cast a provisional ballot - which means they were allowed to vote.

They didn't cast a provisional ballot, and couldn't, BECAUSE THE PRECINCTS THEY LIVE IN DID NOT HAVE ANYTHING ON THE MAY 16TH BALLOT. This is why this case is BOGUS. These women did not suffer "irreparable harm" and they have not yet been denied the right to vote since there has not yet been an election in which they are eligible to vote.

They filed a court challenge, but did they get their registration fixed?

The state really does use the honor system a lot in voter registration, but if the state chooses to verify the information provided on the registration, and they come up with a discrepency - regardless of the cause - how do they know whether it was typographical, clerk error, voter error, or an attempt at a false registration?

In all mail balloting, you must have a valid mailing address. If you don't, you won't get a ballot. If the election department sends a letter to you and it is returned as undeliverable, they can change your voting status to inactive.

We have the right of free speech. But it is also a "conditional" right. We can not go anywhere, anytime and exercise our free speech. In some cases, we must have permits or a license. In other cases, the venue reduces our ability to freely speak - court rooms, council meetings, schools. We can not just drop in on Congress and exercise our free speech rights, we would be removed - in effect denying us our right....

All rights also come with responsibilities that the citizen must acknowledge. Rights without the responsiblity that goes with them is anarchy.

Posted by: SouthernRoots on August 11, 2006 08:42 AM
20. Additionally Paddy Mac, In our primaries, you can't vote for whomever you wish, you must vote along party lines, so by law, your right to vote is conditional.

In other states, you also must be registered to a specific party affiliation in order to vote at certain times:
Lamont's Daughter

Posted by: SouthernRoots on August 11, 2006 12:08 PM
21. ewaggin:

"Who said anything about perjury?"

Soundpolitics did, in their post of 4 August on this issue:

" Oldham's complaint is implausible. If she didn't commit outright perjury, then she should at least be laughed out of court."

I know, I know, that was an entire week ago, and nothing SP posts is even worth reading in the first place, let alone recalling later; we both know that. Still, you might have less trouble comprehending court cases if you'd just follow the public record. Perhaps you should take a (very long) break from commenting here, all the better to unwind.

"He/she/it can't let the court decision on the 2004 election fiasco go..."

Since it will forever be the last word on that subject, none of us will ever be able to let it go -- if we're honest. The dishonest amongst us will continue to deny it, and thus we upright citizens must correct them.

"...diminish the degree to which the Dhimmicrats in this state have skewed & screwed things up."

Indeed, it was a Democratic legislature which enacted this legal dreck, and a Democratic Governor who signed it. Luckily for all of us, our independent judiciary -- in the form of a Republican judge, appointed by a President named Bush -- still protects our voting rights. I wish that all Repubicans could see it this way, but your party is a "big tent", I'm told.

Southernroots, I find no surprise in your non-condemnation of (racist) poll taxes. On your main points, you are either wrong or irrelevant. Under the 14th Amendment, a state cannot add restrictions on voting rights for a federal citizen. The "condition" of not commiting a felony or two proved insurmountable for some of Mr. Rossi's supporters, but voting rights are not conditional in the sense that you meant it.

As I've previously noted, the actions of individual plaintiffs have no bearing on the unconstitutionality of this bogus law.

"Additionally Paddy Mac, In our primaries, you can't vote for whomever you wish, you must vote along party lines, so by law, your right to vote is conditional."

Yes, determining how a membership organization behaves should be limited to members of that organization. (Duh.) Whether that organization should receive public assistance in making such choices is another debate, but has no bearing on our rights as citizens.

Posted by: Paddy Mac on August 11, 2006 10:23 PM
22. Paddy Mac, you continue to confuse reality for what you wish would be.

First off, your slur on me regarding poll taxes is inexcusable. Read the 24th Amendment:

Amendment XXIV: Poll taxes The Twenty-Fourth Amendment was proposed on August 27, 1962, and ratified on January 23, 1964.

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

I just found it curious that the amendment only covered Federal offices and said nothing about local or state offices. General practice is to not have poll taxes at all and I'm fine with that, but it isn't specifically spelled out in the 24th Amendment.

"Under the 14th Amendment, a state cannot add restrictions on voting rights for a federal citizen."

Again, this is what you wish to believe, but not the reality of what is. The 14th Amendment, section 2, sets up a class of citizens identified as

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/op-ed/20050307-083132-2008r.htm

http://www.constitutioncenter.org/education/ForEducators/Viewpoints/FelonDisenfranchisementIsConstitutional,AndJustified.shtml

Indeed, Section 2 of the 14th Amendment itself contemplates this disenfranchisement, since it acknowledges "that the right to vote may be abridged for participation in rebellion, or other crime." Surely this is some evidence that the reasons for disenfranchising criminals need not be racially discriminatory. The Supreme Court upheld a felon disenfranchisement statute from a nonracial Equal Protection Clause challenge in Richardson v. Ramirez (1974), relying on Section 2.

http://talkleft.com/new_archives/010364.html

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld an 1868 Florida law that refuses to allow those with felony convictions to vote, even after they have served their sentences.

Tuesday's 10-2 ruling widens an existing split of opinion on the issue among the federal appellate courts across the country and could set the stage for the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve the issue. The decision affirmed a 2002 summary judgment by Senior U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King in Miami.

There is a heated debate on this topic, but current law and judicial interpretation is not on your side at this time.

Posted by: SouthernRoots on August 12, 2006 11:39 AM
23. (sigh). I keep forgetting that I have to spell everything out when I comment here, because the will not to understand reigns strongly.

"Amendment XXIV: Poll taxes The Twenty-Fourth Amendment was proposed on August 27, 1962, and ratified on January 23, 1964.

"Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

"I just found it curious that the amendment only covered Federal offices and said nothing about local or state offices. General practice is to not have poll taxes at all and I'm fine with that, but it isn't specifically spelled out in the 24th Amendment."

That's because a near-century of jurisprudence had established that the Fourteenth Amendment prevented the states from imposing additional restrictions upon their citizens' voting rights. Just because you did not quote from the relevant section of the Fourteenth Amendment doesn't mean it does not exist.

You did catch me being less than thorough: "Under the 14th Amendment, a state cannot add restrictions on voting rights for a federal citizen."

"Again, this is what you wish to believe, but not the reality of what is. The 14th Amendment, section 2, sets up a class of citizens identified as

"...except for participation in rebellion, or other crime..."

"...There is a heated debate on this topic, but current law and judicial interpretation is not on your side at this time."

Since I'd never claimed that the state couldn't restrict a felon's franchise, I didn't think that this was an issue. (If you read my other comments on this topic, you'll find a lot of my ire in them, specifically because the State of Washington had not prevented ineligible felons from voting in 2004.)

A state can indeed restrict a felon from voting, and each state can have different laws about it. These very narrow, and tightly defined, exceptions that you cited thus become the only cases where a state can add conditions to the voting rights of a citizen. Thank you for helping me to clarify my point. Notice that the exceptions do not include "having a clerk misplace the ballot", "having a felon vote nearby", or "making inconsequential errors on the voter-registration forms". The Republicans tried to make each one of those cases a reason to disenfranchise Washingtonians, and each effort failed. Another law, inviting the same litigious abuse, will only exacerbate our problems. And violate the Fourteenth Amendment.

BTW, Southernroots, that first clause you quoted, about rebellion, refers to the then-flower of Southern, white, Christian manhood, who had fired treasonously upon their fellow Americans, for the latters' 'crime' of having elected Abe Lincoln. I find no problem with them having lost their franchises.

Posted by: Paddy Mac on August 13, 2006 06:08 PM
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