Friday, February 03, 2006

5,224

The Secretary of State’s office should have heeded election reform guidance when it was first offered by the many groups that desire true election reform. Now Secretary Reed is caught up in a boondoggle of mediocre measures to implement Washington’s new statewide voter database.

The federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) required all states to create a statewide voter registration database by January 1, 2006. Each state was given the opportunity to customize their methods of doing so. The Evergreen Freedom Foundation, an Olympia-based non-profit public policy group, recommended a list of best election practices for Washington to adopt. Since then, Sec. Reed and the legislature have neglected to enact much of EFF’s measures for true reform.

One recommendation was to place all voters on an inactive status. Voters would be required to update their registration by mail or in person in order to vote a regular ballot in the next election. Anyone failing to do so would be able to vote a provisional ballot.

Just yesterday, the Secretary of State’s office acknowledged that the new voter database found at least 5,224 dead people registered to vote in Washington and more than 3,000 voters registered twice. While these registrations are still being investigated, we are “assured” that there is no election fraud or misconduct that occurred as a result of these findings.

Not so fast. Have we already forgotten that previous elections in Washington didn’t exactly go off without a hitch?

It needs to be made clear that the only way to restore the confidence of the people is to enact serious election reform before November’s mid-term elections. By clearing all voter rolls and requiring voters to reactivate their registrations is one of the best ways to restore public trust. While this may be an inconvenience to many, it is a necessary step for Washington to again have free and fair elections.


View the Seattle Times story here.