Cleaning Up in Seattle

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Washington State became a poster child for the most mishandled election in the country in 2004, when its photo-finish governor’s race required three recounts before Democrat Christine Gregoire was declared the winner over Republican Dino Rossi by 139 votes. The election was rife with irregularities, including felons illegally voting, absentee ballots mishandled and new ballots constantly being “discovered” during the process.

Since then, the Democratic legislature and Ms. Gregoire have only made matters worse by expanding the vote-by-mail balloting that was at the heart of many of the 2004 election problems. But yesterday voters in Washington State were reminded why it might be a better idea to tighten up their election laws. King County (Seattle) election officials were forced to remove 1,762 voter registrations from the rolls, finding they had been fraudulently submitted by employees of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). ACORN employees, it turned out, had gone to a local library and filled out bogus registration forms with names from the phonebook.


At the same, the King County prosecutor announced criminal charges against seven ACORN employees for vote fraud. He also announced that ACORN had signed a settlement agreeing to establish certain internal controls in exchange for the organization not being prosecuted. The move highlights the need for ACORN’s dubious registration activities in other states to be scrutinized.

In a separate move, Washington State’s Supreme Court voted 6 to 3 that a suit brought by several felons who were seeking to have their voting rights restored on equal protection grounds was invalid and that Washington’s felon disenfranchisement laws were constitutional.

All in all, it was a good day for the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, which had actively publicized the need to clean up the state’s spongy voter rolls. The next question is whether the state’s voters will become engaged. A good signal will come this November when King County residents vote on a proposal to make the county clerk, who oversees elections, an elected position rather than a political appointment of the partisan county executive. Having the county’s top election official directly accountable to the voters may help prevent a repeat of 2004’s nightmarish governor’s race in 2008, when Governor Gregoire will likely face off against Mr. Rossi again.

”’John Fund is an editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal and”’

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