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GOP: Washington jeopardizing votes of troops

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Aug. 31, 2010 at 12:43 pm with 8 Comments »
August 31, 2010 12:51 pm

The state Republican Party says Washington should have to meet the same deadlines as other states for sending Nov. 2 election ballots to voters living overseas or serving in the military.

Washington obtained an exemption from new federal requirements last week, which Republicans say will “almost certainly result in disenfranchising the votes of our brave men and women serving in the military.”

But Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed‘s office, which applied for the waiver, says Washington’s unusual elections calendar allows nearly all ballots to return from far-flung locations in time to be counted. In the past two elections, 99 percent of overseas ballots sent back were counted.

“We believe we have one of the strongest programs in the country for overseas and military voters, and that we provide opportunities above and beyond most states,” Elections Director Nick Handy told me.

So why does the state need an exemption from federal law? States are supposed to send out ballots to overseas voters 45 days before the election, or Sept. 18 this year, as part of the 2009 Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.

Because of its late Aug. 17 primary, Washington told the feds it can’t meet the Sept. 18 deadline. Results from the primary won’t be certified until Sept. 7, leaving just 11 days to design thousands of different ballots across the state, print them and mail them.

Ten states with August and September primaries applied for waivers. Since then, Fox News has kept up a drumbeat of questioning over whether troops would be disenfranchised. Here are some of the reports compiled by the liberal Media Matters for America, which calls it a manufactured controversy:

Handy said elections officials received a lot of calls after the segments aired. “The phone call would usually begin, ‘Why do you hate military voters?'” he said.

In the end, the feds approved waivers for just five states, including Washington. The Associated Press has details.

Reed’s office says it will send out ballots by Oct. 3. Since unlike most states, Washington accepts completed ballots until Nov. 23 (as long as they’re signed by Election Day), that gives ballots a 51-day window to travel back and forth.

Here’s the resolution passed by the GOP’s State Committee:

The Washington State Republican Party State Committee condemns the Washington State Secretary of State’s decision to seek a waiver from the federal deadline for sending general election ballots to American Military personnel overseas.

Failure to comply with this federal law will almost certainly result in disenfranchising the votes of our brave men and women serving in the military, who risk their lives protecting the voting rights of all Americans.

The Washington State Republican Party requests the Secretary of State immediately reverse this decision and withdraw the waiver request.

Leave a comment Comments → 8
  1. SeattleConservative says:

    “Results from the primary won’t be certified until Sept. 7, leaving just 11 days to design thousands of different ballots across the state, print them and mail them.”

    the RESULTS are already available. Certification isn’t required to know how the general election will shape up- there are no races so close from the primary that a recount will be required.
    This smells like a trick by Patty Murray’s camp to eke out a win over Rossi by not having to count the votes of the service men and women she claims to support.
    She even had the gall last week to claim she’s “not a professional politician” like Dino. I guess she’s been working for free all this time…

  2. SeattleConservative, there are many races around the state that are too close to call right now. Sam Reed is a Republican, he’s not doing this to help out Murray.

  3. SouthernRoots says:

    Because of its late Aug. 17 primary, Washington told the feds it can’t meet the Sept. 18 deadline.

    The earliest a third Tuesday primary date can occur is the 15th and this will only occur once every 11 years. The latest is the 21st. 2017 will be the first year we will have the 15th fall on a Tuesday.

    If the primary was on the 15th, would they have met the schedule?

    Basically, Reed is saying that the legislature screwed up, that they didn’t leave enough time to be able to turn new ballots around for on-time mailing to the troops. But then, wasn’t that one of the reasons for moving the primary in the first place?

    If the primary was moved to allow more time to process the mail in ballots, what did we really gain by going all mail?

    Since our “late” primary was only two days later than the best case scenario, will be be getting a waiver every year?

  4. Jordan Schrader says:

    SouthernRoots: You’re right, the primary will be “late” every year. If nothing changes, the state will try to apply for more waivers in future elections (2012 and even-numbered years only, since this applies only to federal elections.) – Jordan

  5. SouthernRoots says:

    Based on the even year criteria, 2012 – 21st, 2014 – 19th, 2016 – 16th. We won’t see the 15th on an even year Tuesday until 2028.

    Waiver requests for the foreseeable future….

  6. The Pierce County Auditor’s Office will meet this challenge head on.

    We WILL mail voting materials to our military and overseas voters by the MOVE Act deadline.

    And, we’re providing a special military edition of our Local Voters’ Pamphlet included with the ballot.

    This is a top priority. One we take very seriously.

    As always, keep the questions coming.
    Call us or email us at 253-798-7430 or pcelections@co.pierce.wa.us

    Lori Augino
    Pierce County Chief Deputy Auditor

  7. SuperSteve says:

    Some people see a conspiracy under every rock.

    Conservatives think this is an attempt to screw presumably conservative military voters out of their franchise – but Sam Reed is a Republican, so how does that play into this conspiracy theory? Alaska, a pretty conservative state, applied for a waiver – how does that fit into the meme of this being an attempt to help Democrats?

  8. thurber says:

    The military should learn, like the veterans know, the GOP hates you. The draft dodgers in the Bush administration (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld) just saw you as pawns in their fantasy games, not as real flesh and blood.

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