Croker Sack

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." — Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

Friday, March 04, 2005

SSB 5499 amendments galore

Update March 9, 4:30 PM: According to today's report of Senate floor activity, the amendment offered by Sen. Benton (S2113.2) was "pulled" yesterday, March 8. So, unless there is some other amendment which would require a reconciliation of voters and ballots before a county's election returns are certified, it appears nothing is pending which would change the meaningless post-certification report in SSB 5499, section 17.

Update March 5, 1:35 PM: This entry posted by Matt Rosenberg at Sound Politics indicates that the sponsor of this particular amendment isn't someone who could win support for his amendment even if it had no flaws. Senator Benton seems to be jockeying to be nominated for the first annual Izzen T. Hollowe Memorial Prize.

Well, the Republicans have gone hog-wild offering amendments to SSB 5499.

So far as I can tell, only one would have any impact on section 17.

In an amendment offered by Senator Benton, there is a requirement to reconcile the numbers of voters and ballots:

"NEW SECTION. Sec. 13 A new section is added to chapter 29A.60 RCW to read as follows: Before a county auditor may make a final certification of election returns, the county auditor shall reconcile by precinct the number of ballots counted from the precinct and the number of voters credited with having cast a counted ballot. The number of ballots counted and the number of voters who cast those ballots will always be equal in a properly administered election. The county auditor shall report by precinct any variance between the number of ballots and the number of voters. If the total number of ballots without voters, or voters without ballots, exceeds the winning margin in an election or primary, the election or primary as to that position is void. No certificate of election may be issued. A revote for that position must be held within sixty days."
Unfortunately, this amendment isn't likely to attract much support, since it has fatal flaws.

First, county auditors do not "make a final certification of election returns." The county canvassing boards have the responsibility and authority to certify the official election returns.

Second, the reasons for a mismatch of the numbers of voters and ballots ought to be considered by the canvassing boards before they certify their official returns, but this amendment would simply mandate that the election be declared void no matter what the reasons. It may be that there is no good reason which would make the election results acceptable despite a mismatch and no acceptable remedy short of invalidating the election, but the decision ought to be left to the canvassing boards and the person or entity authorized to issue a certificate of election.

Finally, having a "revote for that position...within sixty days" is not constitutional in the case of a gubernatorial election -- and perhaps not for other offices, although I haven't researched them.

Besides, when would the sixty-day period begin? I know people don't seem to like what our constitution says about the election returns for state executive offices, but it requires that the returns be delivered to the speaker of the house to be opened, published and declared. Is that act of the speaker of the house the thing that starts the sixty-day period?

It seems that the Republicans are no better than the Democrats at reading the constitution they swore to uphold.


Post a Comment

<< Home