WA Governor Prediction

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I predict the judge will not set aside the 2004 WA governor's election. That is, that he will find for the Democrats.

I also predict he will rip the Democrats for putting together a terrible case -- and King County for putting together a terrible election system -- and commend the Republicans for putting together an excellent one. But in the end, I don't think he will find that the evidence of mistakes and fraud meets the high threshhold required for the question of setting aside an election.

That's the wrong question, though.

I don't think mistakes alone justify setting an election aside, in the general case. Nor even mistakes combined with fraud on behalf of unaffiliated individuals (the hundreds of felon voters). There is always the possibility of mistakes, and you can't throw out an election just because there are some; if you do, then there can be no such thing as a close election. You always will have a new election if the difference is smaller than a certain percentage, which doesn't strike me as particularly democratic.

However, that assumes that the given election system is well-designed and well-run, and that everything reasonable is being done to eliminate such mistakes. It assumes that the election system is designed to respect and protect the rights of the voters.

And therein lies the problem: in Washington, the Democratic-controlled legislature and Secretary of State's office, and some county elections offices, have done a lot to make sure we don't eliminate mistakes.

They refuse to purge voter rolls, to properly identify voters, to limit mail-in voting, to match up votes to voters, to make different ballot types (provisional, absentee, etc.) look different, and more.

The absence of these provisions is what gave us almost all the "mistakes" shown in court the last two weeks. And the government refuses to fix them. They refuse to protect the rights of the voters by having a good elections system, and worse, they actually -- if not intentionally -- invite fraud, as they provide no means to defend against it.

If the election system is broken, and if the government refuses to fix it, and the result is close enough to be in question, I can see only two remedies. One would be to set aside any close election until the problems are fixed. The other would be simply to order the government to fix the problems for next time.

Given that the legislature just spent a lot of time on election reform earlier this year, and didn't fix the problems, I don't think anyone should have faith in the latter option.

I've been going over this in my mind the last few days, and I was thinking I might come down in favor of the Democratic position in this case. But then I got to the end of the tunnel, and I see no other reasonable option. All the arguments for letting the election stand rely on faith in the election system, which is a losing argument.

I hope I'm wrong, and the judge sees it this way tomorrow, but I wouldn't bet on it. slashdot.org

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"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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