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)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Washington Supreme Court Rejects "Recall Reed"

The wrongheaded effort to recall Secretary of State Sam Reed because of perceived failings in the certification of the last gubernatorial election was tossed out today by the Washington Supreme Court.

The court held that Reed's ministerial role under our constitution left him no choice but to hand the counties' election returns to the legislature:

Charge nine asserts that Secretary Reed failed to withhold certification of the manual recount of votes in the governor's election. State law requires that the canvassing boards of each county certify the results of the votes cast in their respective counties. RCW 29A.60.190. The county canvassing boards are charged by law with the duty to 'verify the results from the precincts and the absentee ballots.' RCW 29A.60.200. By contrast, the secretary of state's statutory duties are limited to compiling county election returns on a statewide basis. RCW 29A.60.250. See also WAC 434-262-100.
More fundamentally, the state constitution imposes upon the secretary of state a ministerial duty to certify the returns as submitted by the counties. Thus, the secretary of state has a constitutional duty to deliver the counties' respective returns to the speaker of the house. In light of the constitution's mandatory provisions, appellants' charge nine would require Secretary Reed to disregard a constitutional duty. Thus, charge nine is legally insufficient. [Emphasis added.]

Here's the pertinent language of Article III, Section 4 of the state constitution:

The returns of every election for the officers named in the first section of this article shall be sealed up and transmitted to the seat of government by the returning officers, directed to the secretary of state, who shall deliver the same to the speaker of the house of representatives at the first meeting of the house thereafter, who shall open, publish and declare the result thereof in the presence of a majority of the members of both houses. [Emphasis added.]

Note that the counties' returns are "sealed up" and sent to the secretary of state, who then delivers them -- unopened -- to the speaker of the house of representatives.

It's too bad the supreme court didn't quote that part of the constitution and point out the absurdity of claiming that Reed "certifies" the election of a governor.

The legislature certifies the election of the governor and issues the certificate of election. No one else in our state government has the authority to do so under our constitution.

The wording of our constitution is so plain in this regard that it is beyond imagining how anyone could misunderstand the meaning of the words.

So, can anyone explain how the legislature and their staff members and the secretary of state and his staff misunderstand that part of the constitution? Why does the secretary open and publish the counties' returns?


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