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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 3, 2009 at 4:00 PM

King County elections

Opening the door to partisan leverage

The contest for King County elections director is not actually nonpartisan at all. Though four of the candidates have never run for any public office as partisan candidates, two have run for public office as Republicans.

You might recall the Lori Sotelo attempt at voter disenfranchisement in 2005, featuring perjury and illegal modification of voter registration challenge forms. King County Councilmember David Irons and state Sen. Pam Roach are running to make this the official policy of the King County Elections Department.

If either are to win, we can look forward to officially recognized attempts to make low-wage voters give up a day’s pay to defend their franchise. Signature-matching programs will be modified to throw out as many ballots as possible, and it is likely that the policy of three attempts at voter contact in the event of mismatches will be eliminated on the grounds of expense. There is ample precedent for this: Florida Republicans threw voters off the rolls if there was an 80 percent match between their names and a list of felons. Not good news at all for people named Jones or Smith in non-affluent Zip codes.

The current Republican leadership is committed to the notion that voting is not actually a citizenship right and duty, but a carnival kewpie-doll prize you can only win by getting past all the barriers they put in your way. Honest Republicans who disagree, such as our own John McKay, who refused to pursue bogus cases of “voter fraud,” were summarily fired as U.S. attorneys.

As Paul Weyrich famously said, “Now many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome — good government. They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

— Martha Koester, Seattle

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