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
For immediate release:
From King County Democrats
Steve Zemke- Chair
Republican Ballot Collection in King County Threatens Integrity of Election Process
The King County Democrats condemn the canvassing efforts of Rob McKenna and the King County Republicans to collect ballots at people’s doors and put them into King County Elections Drop boxes. This breaks the historical chain of custody that has existed in our election process and opens it to abuse and fraud.
We would never have allowed one party or unauthorized election officials to collect ballots from polling places in the past and transfer them to King County Elections. Yet what McKenna and Republicans are doing is taking ballots from voters and breaking the chain of custody that existed in the past and that putting a ballot in the mail or a drop box insures.
Tampering with mail is a Federal offense and tampering with votes is a felony. Yet who is watching over the ballots when GOP paid canvassers pick up ballots and ensuring that ballots are not lost or changed or tampered with. GOP paid canvassers are not election officials and should not be handling ballots.
We urge Washington State Secretary of State Sam Reed to call a halt to this unforeseen and callous attempt to destroy the ballot chain of custody process. We likewise urge Sherril Huff of King County Elections to also tell Republicans to cease this process as it threatens the integrity of the election results. Would state and local election officials think it was OK for anyone to remove ballots from a drop box and transport them to King County? Republicans and McKenna need to cease this process now!
McKenna Camp Paying People to Collect Ballots; KC Elections Advises Voters to Send Ballots In Themselves http://www.seattlemet.com/news-and-profiles/publicola/articles/mckenna-camp-paying-people-to-collect-ballots-kc-elections-advises-voters-to-send-ballots-in-themselves
Elections officials caution voters about canvassers offering to help with ballots http://www.king5.com/news/local/Elections-officials-caution-voters-on-canvassers-offering-to-help-with-ballots-177047041.html
King County Warns that GOP Is Trying to Collect Ballots http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2012/11/02/king-county-warns-that-gop-is-trying-to-collect-ballots
WA: GOP Volunteers Going Door To Door In DEMOCRATIC King County TO COLLECT BALLOTS!!! http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021701454
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