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WARNING: THIS SITE FEATURES ORIGINAL THINKING...Jim Croce once sang Don't tug on Superman's cape..., which seems like reasonable advice should we not wish to anger the supreme powers. We do have this duality in our culture: the Superman that is the state collective, the leftist call to a politics of meaning managed by the state, the deification of "we're from the government and we'll take care of you" - versus the Superman that celebrates individual freedom, private property, freedom of conscience, free enterprise, and limited government. We humbly take on the latter's mantle and, eschewing the feeble tug, we dare to PULL, in hope of seeing freedom's rescue from the encroaching nanny state. We invite you, dear reader, to come and pull as well... Additionally, if you assume that means that we are unflinching, unquestioning GOP zombies, that would be incorrect. We reject statism in any form and call on individuals in our country to return to the original, classical liberalism of our founders. (We're also passionate about art, photography, cooking, technology, Judeo/Christian values, and satire as unique, individual pursuits of happiness to celebrate.)

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February 26, 2005
WA Governor's Race: Republicans introduce meaningful election reforms
Filed in: Current Affairs, Politics, WA Governor's Race

While the Democrats in our state capitol, Olympia, primarily discuss inconsequential issues regarding election reform - our Republican representatives have put together an outstanding series of reforms to prevent future fiascos like the one we have been going through in our fair state.

From GOP Chairman Chris Vance's summary letter this week comes this report:

State House Update

Dear Friend,

Greetings from the Legislature in Olympia. We are now several weeks into the 2005 session and are addressing many major issues facing our state. As anyone who watched the 2004 governor's race knows, one of the biggest is fixing the problems with our election system.

Today House Republicans unveiled our package of election reforms. These changes are aimed squarely at making sure the problems we saw in the recent election do not happen again. You'll find a summary of our proposals below.

Thank you for allowing me to send you updates about issues before the Legislature. Please feel free to forward this e-mail to those who share our goals.

Warmest regards,

Rep. Bruce Chandler
House Republican Leader

A "model to the rest of the nation and the world?"

I have heard from hundreds of you about the historically close governor's race and the mistakes, errors and problems that have caused you to lose confidence in our electoral system. This election was not a "model to the rest of the nation and the world at large," as Gov. Gregoire has said. It was an embarrassment that exposed the flaws in our voting system. In fact, if the state accepted a 99.8 percent accuracy rate for the general fund budget - the same level King County accepted in this election - it would mean almost $50 million were missing. That's a record no bank would envy.

Our state constitution promises "free and equal" elections. The reforms we are proposing will help us meet that standard. They will:

Make sure every vote has a voter;

Ensure integrity in the election process;

Foster public confidence in election results; and

Treat every legal vote fairly and equally.

We grouped our election reforms into four different categories: improvements to the overall election system, changes to the processes used before election day, more checks and balances on election day and common-sense processes after the election. The legislation we introduced today addresses them all.

Overhauling the structure of our voting system

Some of the problems that occurred in this election happened because of the way our voting system is set up. Here are the changes we propose, and why:

Move the primary election date from September to the third Tuesday in August. With an extra month or so before the November election, county election offices would have more time to mail absentee ballots, and voters would have more time to return their ballots - especially military voters.

Begin the candidate filing period on the fourth Monday in May. This would coordinate with the new primary election day.

Eliminate the 30-day fundraising freeze after the legislative session. We would need this change because of the earlier primary date.

Pre-election changes

We can't ensure a fair election unless we know that everyone who is registered to vote is truly qualified to do so and voters are who they claim to be. Our legislation would:

Require voters to register at least 30 days before an election to vote in that election. Currently the law is 15 days - a timeline that's been used to the advantage of those who want election workers to be too busy to thoroughly check out new registrants. The 30-day period would give county auditors more time to get everyone properly registered and reduce the need for provisional ballots.

Tighten registration requirements. Remember how people listed their residences as rented mailboxes this election? Under our proposal, that would no longer be acceptable.

Give counties the tools they need to clean up the voter registration rolls by moving all voters to "inactive" status and requiring them to re-register by July 1, 2007. Anyone who doesn't re-register would remain on the inactive list and could still vote, in accordance with federal law, but would have to vote using a provisional ballot.

Require the Secretary of State to check the voter registration database each month for:

Duplicate registrations

Felons whose voting rights were not restored

Deceased voters

Changes on Election Day

Democrats have been saying for months that they want every vote to count. We do too - as long as we are counting ballots that were cast legally. We also think every qualified voter should have a fair and equal chance to participate in elections. That's especially true of our military, who are making huge sacrifices to defend our liberty and security overseas. To make sure that's happening, our legislation would:

Require poll-place voters to show photo ID using a Washington driver's license, Washington ID card, US passport or any other form of photo ID approved by the Secretary of State.

Make provisional, absentee and polling place ballots different colors and give them a different bar coding. Remember how provisional ballots - unchecked for legality - were sent into the mix in King County? This change would prevent that debacle.

Equip counting machines to accept only ballots with the proper bar code.

Require that all ballots be received at county offices by 8 p.m. on Election Day. The only exception would be members of our military, who would simply have to vote their ballots by Election Day. This change would be possible because the earlier primary would help counties get their ballots out earlier and give voters more time to send them back in.

And finally, after the election. . .

Every vote should have a voter! That's why our proposal includes these changes following an election:

Counties would need to reconcile the number of ballots with the number of people credited with voting. If they can't, they'll need to explain the discrepancy. Having such a rule in place would have saved innumerable headaches in this year's election.

If the number of ballots cast for an office or ballot measure was greater than the number of lawful voters and the difference exceeded the margin of victory, that election would be declared void. A revote would be held within 60 days.

If an election board found errors, the county could amend its report during a 24-hour period following the last county's certification. Military ballots that came in following a county's certification would be added at that time.

Any improvements to our election laws should include consequences for breaking them. We would increase the penalties for illegal registration or voting. That offense is now a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor - our bill would make it a class C felony. Those who vote illegally would be referred to county prosecutors and the results tracked.

And finally, only county election departments - not party operatives - would be allowed to notify provisional ballot voters whose ballots were rejected.

This is outstanding work by our Republican state legislators and they should be commended. We citizens should provide our continued support and input in this process - we have a Democrat dominated state government and they will likely fail the test for meeting these challenges. If we don't make these things happen we'll just get more of the same.

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