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Friday, November 04, 2005

Republicans make excuses for voter harassment

The Stranger has some new developments in the unfolding saga over the Republican Party's attempt to disenfranchise hundreds (if not thousands) of voters:
It turns out that Lacey and his neighbors were just a few among at least 140 King County voters who were wrongly challenged by Sotelo, who chairs the King County Republican Party’s “Voter Registration Integrity Project.” Sotelo could not be reached for comment on Friday morning, when The Stranger first reported the mistakes on our blog, but Chris Vance, chairman of the state Republican Party later confirmed for The Stranger that a serious mistake had been made.

“We are withdrawing those challenges today and apologizing to those folks,” he said. He added that it is “just coincidence” that a significant number of the wrongly challenged voters live in a strongly Democratic neighborhood.
Sure, ChairmanVance. That's what you want us to think, but we know you're lying through your teeth. Coincidence, indeed. You screwed up - worse than King County Elections ever has.

“If they were doing their jobs,” Vance said of King County election officials, “we wouldn’t have to do this.” But if that’s why Republicans undertook the project, how did they then come to do such an ineffectual job themselves?

“We’re off by less than 10 percent,” Vance said, establishing what appeared to be a lower standard of accuracy for his party than for the King County elections officials his party claims to be watch-dogging. “For having this done by volunteers and interns, this is very good work.”
Chris, do you realize how lame you sound? You sound like a total idiot. No one is buying your spin. It's pathetically laughable.

"We're off by less than ten percent", indeed. And "very good work"? Well, if you're an extremist Republican who believes in playing dirty, then yes, this would amount to "good work". For everybody else, it's an outrage.

Sims' office had an excellent reaction:
Sandeep Kaushik, a spokesman for Sims, said the fiasco, whose scope is still not clear because Republicans have not yet released a list of all their challenged voters, showed an embarrassing degree of amateurishness on the part of the Republicans.

“This is an unfortunate example of what happens when what is a serious issue, people’s right to vote, is hijacked for partisan advantage,” Kaushik said.
Absolutely. The Republicans are trying to milk the 2004 election controversy for all it's worth. They're using it as an excuse to start a purge of voter rolls to get rid of Democratic voters.

And voters don't like it - one bit:
He said county election workers had been flooded with calls in the last two days from angry King County residents who had received Republican-generated challenge letters, including one call from an elderly African-American woman who felt her letter was part of an effort to suppress her vote.
Well, I don't blame that woman in the least. This is voter suppression, intimidation, harassment, or however you want to put it. It's an attack on citizens' rights and it's completely unacceptable.

We're not the only ones who are angry and disgusted:
King County Councilmembers Larry Phillips and Dow Constantine today expressed outrage at the actions of the King County Republican Party in its blanket challenge of 1,944 King County voter registrations on the eve of a critical general election for countywide office.

"After a week of this kind of behavior on the part of King County Republicans, let's finally call it for what it is. This is not election reform, this is voter intimidation and voter suppression," said Councilmember Phillips, who is Council Chair. "Validly registered voters in King County should not be intimidated by this Republican dirty trick. The right to vote is a cornerstone of American democracy, and that right shouldn't be denied just because a citizen changed her name or lives in an apartment building."
And the councilmembers also have tips for those who received challenge letters from the Republicans:
Phillips and Constantine urged those voters whose registrations were challenged to take one of three actions:

1. Take advantage of emergency Saturday office hours set up tomorrow between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. by King County Elections to assist those who received the challenge letters to update their registration address.

2. If you can't get to the election office on Saturday you can and should still vote. Your ballot will be double-checked to make sure you are properly registered before it is counted.

3. Call the special hotline set up by King County Elections for voters to call for more information. That number is (206) 205-5686.

"The most important message to King County residents is vote," said Councilmember Phillips.
We agree completely. The most important thing is to vote.

Here's some handy files related to this story, courtesy of David Goldstein:

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