Tag Archives: voting

It’s Time For the Washington State Legislature to Enact Election Day Voter Registration

Washington State is lagging behind other states in a major effort to encourage more voter participation in elections. That effort is Election Day Registration. It is sometimes called same day registration There is no legitimate reason to prevent people from registering up to and including the day of the election.

Nine states now allow voter registration on election day. These states are Maine, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Idaho, New Hampshire, Wyoming, Montana, North Carolina and Iowa. Montana’s law went into effect in 2006 and Iowa’s went into effect Jan 1, 2008. It was first used for the Iowa caucuses. North Carolina’s law was passed in 2007 and allows for same day registration and voting during it’s early voting period.

Last year the Washington State Senate passed SB 5561sponsored by Senator Eric Oemig with cosponsors Senators Fairley, Hobbs, Brown, Spanel, Franklin, Kline, Jacobsen, and McAuliffe.SB 5561 allowed voter registration up to and including election day. The bill made it to House Rules but never got a floor vote. Republicans offered some 41 amendments to try to stop the bill and obviously prevented it from being considered in the end.

By resolution SB 5561 has been reintroduced in the Senate and retained in present status. and eligible to be placed on third reading. In this election year with both Republicans and Democrats waging vigorous campaigns to elect a new President, Washington State should make every effort to enact this legislation and afford potential voters every opportunity to register and vote up to and including election day November 4, 2008!

You can contact your legislators and urge support for Election Day Registration and SB 5561 by going to the Washington State Legislative website and sending them an e-mail urging action this year.

The Seattle PI had an editorial yesterday supporting same day voting but referred to a different Senate bill introduced this year by fewer sponsors and which deferred the law going into effect until 2010. No hearing has been scheduled on this bill. There is no legitimate reason for delaying same day registration for an additional 2 years. The Legislature should instead enact SB 5661 which would go into effect this year in time for the Presidential election.

As researched and reported by Demos:

By counteracting arbitrary voter registration deadlines, EDR greatly enhances the opportunity for Americans to participate in the electoral process and cast a ballot that will be properly counted. States with EDR have consistently boasted turnout rates 10 to 12 percentage points higher than states that do not offer Election Day Registration.

In an op-ed piece in the May 11, 2007 edition of the New York Times, the Secretary of State of Idaho, Ben Ysursa and the Secretary of State of Maine, Mathew Dunlap, countered two arguments to election day registration based on their experience:

While opponents are concerned that this option might encourage voter fraud, such crime is exceedingly rare or nonexistent in states that offer Election Day registration. Citizens of Maine, for instance, have benefited from same-day registration since the early 1970s and no case of voter fraud has ever been attributed to the policy. With simple, fair and safe methods to verify voters, and by relying on effective poll-worker training and sophisticated election administration, our states have ensured the integrity of the process while allowing every eligible citizen to cast a ballot.

We also reject the oft-used argument that voters not registered in advance should be effectively barred from voting as punishment for not heeding existing deadlines. While it’s true even E.D.R. states have deadlines in place for registration by mail, we firmly believe that missing a deadline should not prevent interested and engaged parties from being able to register in person on Election Day. We are committed to leaving no voter behind, including first-time voters, newly naturalized citizens and those who may have recently changed addresses.

The irony here is that Washington State has a Democratic Governor and strong majorities in the House and the Senate. Iowa passed election day registration last year, after finally in 2006 overturning 43 years of Republican control of their legislature.

We have had strong Democratic control of our Legislature for a number of years as well as several decades of Democratic control of the Governor’s office. Democrats in our Legislature need to step up and support election day registration now. What are they waiting for?

An excellent site to read about election day registration and the experiences of other states is to go to Demos – a network for ideas and actions. Their democracy program has a webpage on election day registration with links to resources and studies.

Phony Voter Registration by ACORN Workers

It’s an embarrassment and its a felony. Seven workers hired by ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) last fall to register voters in Washington State instead went to the Seattle Public Library and made up names and addresses.

You can read the Seattle Times story here “Seven charged in vote-fraud scheme” and the Seattle PI story here: “Voter-registration workers charged with submitting bogus registrations”

Of course the right wing will be endlessly using this to say “I told you”. The fact is that while some 1760 made up registrations were submitted to King County it turns out that there were no votes cast by these fraudulent registrations. It was not an attempt to steal an election or change the outcome of the vote.

It was really just an amateurish attempt by seven $8.00/hour workers to defraud ACORN out of contracted services. As stated in the Seattle PI article by Grergory Roberts:

“…the scheme had nothing to do with an attempt to manipulate elections and everything to do with the workers’ efforts to keep their $8-an-hour jobs, prosecutors said.
In fact, no votes were cast based on the more than 1,760 fraudulent registrations submitted by workers for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, interim Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said.
“The defendants … cheated their employers to get paid for work they did not actually perform,” Satterberg said. “The defendants simply realized that making up names was easier than actually canvassing the streets.”

Lazy is more like it – the canvassers only had a quota of getting 18 -20 new registrations every day. That’s like only 2-3 registrations an hour. ACORN has accepted responsibility also as they should. Where was the supervision and oversight? A quick look at the registration cards should have made it obvious that something was wrong – like the writing looked the same or “Wow you really registered former heavyweight boxer Leon Spinks and former Sonics basketball player Vin Baker as well as Denis Hastert? He was a former Republican Speaker of the House.

Election officials caught it and the system worked. As the Seattle PI noted:

In accordance with elections procedure, the registrations ACORN submitted were entered in the statewide electronic database of voters, but flagged to require proof of identification should anyone signed up by them attempt to vote. Officials then compared the names and other information with driver’s license and Social Security records and attempted to contact those voters when information did not match. Those attempts were fruitless, and officials Thursday removed 1,762 of the names from the rolls.”

Fraudulent signatures have also been a problem in initiative campaigns in the past. Without adequate pre-hiring screening or adequate supervision phony names can be signed onto petitions. Usually petition firms that pay by the signature will check signatures against voter registration rolls.

Maybe people running voter registration drives need to institute some type of random verification by supervisor’s that actual people signed the forms. Even laying cards out on a table and visually inspecting them would have prevented this embarrassment and negative publicity for an organization that has long worked the grassroots for social causes.

Voting in Washington State on November 7, 2006

One of the biggest dangers for Democrats on election day 2006 is overconfidence. And the other is the complacency of Democratic leaning voters who don’t like what the Republicans are doing to this country but who choose not to vote anyway. Added to this mix is the fact that for the last 6 days it’s been raining Orcas and salmon in the Puget Sound area – reducing the doorbelling outreach of volunteers.

Too many positive sounding polls and unwarranted optimism for “change is coming” with or without me can kill the best hopes of Washington State Democrats helping to win back Congress. Republicans are fighting with everything they have to the bitter end. Democrats and progressives need to do likewise.

Ever see one of those last minute Hail Mary passes that win a game with only seconds to go? The game isn’t over until the last seconds tick off.

Remember the months long Gregoire recount that finally carried the day with hardly an extra vote to spare? Gregoire was the sure winner in the beginning against a little known Republican. And the election fight to win had to continue long after the last vote was turned in.

The only poll that counts is the one taken on Tuesday November 7, 2006.

There are several ways you can still help increase turnout for change. Moveon.org has phone numbers of voters that people can call from home today and tomorrow.

You can also e-mail the Washington State Democrats to help through the polls closing at 8:00 P.M. on Tuesday.

The expectation of the Washington Secretary of State is that only two thirds of the state’s registered voters will vote in what is a national referendum on Bush and Iraq. So if Republicans, even by one seat, squeak out retaining control of Congress, the next two years will be hell for Democrats as things will continue downhill. They will still run Congress and call the shots. Expect that any resolution of Iraq will pass on to the next President 2 years from now.

So get your absentee ballot in the mail now or vote in person on Nov 7th. Voters in 34 of Washington’s 39 counties will vote by mail only. Voters in King, Pierce, Kittitas, Klickitat and Island County will be able to vote absentee or in person.

Absentee ballots must be postmarked Nov 7, 2006 or earlier to be accepted. Make sure you put your ballot in a mailbox that will pick the mail up on Nov 7th. Mail postmarked Nov 8 will not be counted. Put 2 stamps on the envelope as the envelope with ballot weights more than 1 ounce. The postage required in King County is 63 cents.

Most counties will also have dropoff points that you can put your absentee ballot in on Tuesday but check with your county auditor or their website to clarify locations and deadlines.
Click here to see the Washington State list of
county auditors websites, e-mails and phones numbers .

If you have any questions, like verifying where you can vote in person or for other voting registration click on the same link.

Reichert, McMorris and Hastings Absent as Co-Sponsors of Voter Verified Paper Trail Bill.

Some 211 members of Congress from both parties have signed on as Co-Sponsors of a Congressional Bill to require a voter verified paper trail for elections. All 6 of Washington’s Democratic Congressmen have signed up as co-sponsors of House Bill 550.

Washington’s three Republican Congressmen, Dave Reichert (WA 8), Cathy McMorris (WA 5) and Doc Hastings (WA 4) are absent as co-sponsors of HB 550. Congressman Rush Holt of New Jersey is the prime sponsor.

HB 550 would also require that there be a mandatory recount of 2% of all ballots to check for errors or fraud. The title of HB 550 reads Title: To amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require a voter-verified permanent paper record or hard copy under title III of such Act, and for other purposes.

According to CNN, 27 states require by law a voter verified paper trail, 8 others do it, and 15 states have no requirements for safeguards.

There is a need for uniformity and consistency in election results. The 2000 and 2004 elections resulted in a loss of voter confidence in the integrity of our electoral system. The 2000 Presidential election was decided by a 5/4 vote of a conservative US Supreme Court. Some still question the 2004 vote also as a tainted election, particularly because of the Ohio results.

Republicans like McMorris, Reichert and Hastings don’t care because their party was the winner(?) in the Presidential elections. Republicans have deliberately tried to suppress votes in Democratic areas. Questions about the integrity of voting machines like Diebold remain.

As CNN noted, legislation to create a paper trail for voters in Maryland failed to pass their Legislature. So voters will be using machines that voters touch to record votes – there will be no way to verify the accuracy of the final vote because there will be no paper ballots available for a recount.

Reichert, McMorris and Hastings are out of touch with updating our national voting system and installing safeguards to protect the voting process. Just one more reason to vote them out of office.

McMorris is being challenged by Democrat Peter Goldmark.

Reichert is being challenged by Democrat Darcy Burner

Hastings is being challenged by Democrat Richard Wright.