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In the press release below and in an official letter below that from Legal Counsel for the Washington State Democratic Party to Secretary of State Sam Reed, Democrats now at both the King County and State level urge that Reed tell the Republican Party and Rob McKenna to cease using paid canvassers to collect filled out ballots from voters. Such a process breaks the historic chain of custody that has existed in the election  process for years, where once the ballot is filled out, it is protected from possible outside tampering and possession. The current Republican canvassing and partisan ballot collecting breaks the official chain of custody from voter to mail box, or drop box or election official, inserting in a step where a paid partisan canvasser has possession of a signed and filled out official ballot. See our previous post on this entitled “Republican Ballot Collection in King County Threatens Integrity of Election“.
Washington State Democrats Press Release:
For immediate Release
November 3, 2012
Contact: Benton Strong
206-552-0156
Washington State Democrats Chair Pelz Calls on Secretary of State Sam Reed to Denounce GOP Ballot Collection Tactics

Seattle – Today, the Washington State Democrats called on Secretary of State Sam Reed to denounce the recently announced practice by the King County Republican Party of sending Republican operatives to collect ballots. The Washington State Republican Party and the campaign of Rob McKenna have recently been recruiting unknown paid canvassers to go door-to-door collecting ballots, leaving their delivery in the hands of partisan political operatives.
Reed, who recently gave $50,000 to the WSRP, should encourage the Republican party to direct voters to return their ballots through official means, either by mail, at a drop box, or at a mobile drop box. As Secretary of State, Reed is responsible for ensuring the independence and integrity of our elections, and this tactic by Republicans threatens that.
“This looks like a campaign that doesn’t know how to run a get out the vote program and is panicking,” said Washington State Democrats Chair Dwight Pelz. “Voters in King County have many ways in which to return their ballots, including by mail, in a drop box, or in a mobile drop box. Republicans should be encouraging people to return their ballot through official means, as we and the County have done, but instead they are creating a situation fraught with the opportunity of voter fraud.”
“We’ve learned a lot about Rob McKenna’s ethics this week — from taxpayer-funded trips to Disneyland, to going door-to-door taking people’s ballots away from them. This isn’t how we conduct fair elections; Rob McKenna’s campaign should cease this practice immediately.”
The full text of the letter is below:

 

November 2, 2012

By Email and U.S. Mail

Hon. Sam Reed
Secretary of State

416 Sid Snyder Ave. S.W.
Legislative Building
Olympia, WA

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

KJH:wbs

cc:  Katie Blinn, Co-Director of Elections

Last weekend the Washington State Democratic Central Committee had a quarterly meeting in Walla Walla. They passed resolutions opposing Tim Eyman’s budget freeze Initiative 1033 and supporting passing Referendum 71. Both measures are on the November 3rd, 2009 ballot.

The No on 1033 resolution noted that the Democrats are firmly opposed to I-1033 and “encourages their members to educate voters about the potential consequences of I-1033 and to work to defeat it.”

You can see some of the other 180 plus organizations signed on to oppose I-1033 and learn what you can do to help by visiting the No on 1033 campaign website.

The Approve Referendum 71 resolution states that the Washington State Democrats endorse the Washington Families Standing Together Campaign and “urges approval of Referendum 71 in order to retain the domestic partnership law” passed by the Washington State Legislature.

To support the efforts to approve Referendum 71, you can visit the Approve Referendum 71 campaign website.

The Washington State Republican Party has voted previously to support I-1033 and oppose Referendum 71. They are pretty much alone in their position on Initiative 1033 as no other major groups have come out in support of I-1033

I-1033 proposes to freeze the budgets of the state and all 39 counties and 281 cities at the current recession level and use any revenue coming in above the current budget to pay property taxes rather than fund education or health care or any other public services. The big losers are renters which are 35% of households in the state whereas the winners would be large property owners, including corporations.

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