November 2, 2012
By Email and U.S. Mail
416 Sid Snyder Ave. S.W.
Dear Secretary Reed:
I represent the Washington State Democratic Party. It has come to our attention that the King County Republican Party is informing voters that they can and should drop off voted ballots not at county election offices or U.S. mailboxes, but instead a temporary pick up locations staffed by Republican party operatives. Worse, these actions are being taken in direct contravention of guidance from the King County Elections Department. http://www.kingcounty.gov/elections.aspx.
This initiative is as ill-considered as it is unprecedented. There is a reason why nonpartisan election officials conduct our elections and the prospect of having partisan operatives collect voted ballots and return them to the elections office is chilling indeed. It is especially concerning in light of press reports from around the country about deliberate efforts by Republican Party officials to disenfranchise Democratic voters by collecting and then destroying their voter registration applications. See, e.g., http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57535950/man-charged-after-tossing-voter-registration-forms-in-virginia/.
Worse, state law makes it a felony for a person to either directly or indirectly offer “anything of value” to a voter in exchange for a vote. RCW 29A.84.620. The collection and delivery of ballots at the expense of the Republican Party seems a plain and clear violation of that statute.
As Washington’s chief elections officer, I ask that you defend our tradition of nonpartisan election administration and call upon the King County Republican Party to immediately cease and desist from this, frankly, badly misguided effort and consider appropriate legal action if that becomes necessary.
Very truly yours,
Kevin J. Hamilton
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