May 2, 2005


Calculating illegal votes' impact could be key to election lawsuit (David Postman, 5/01/05, Seattle Times)

Here's the courtroom scene Democrats say is inevitable, given the Republican legal challenge to last year's governor's election:

Some 1,000 felons — including forgers, perjurers and fraud artists — are subpoenaed from around the state, brought to a Chelan County courtroom and asked to say under oath which candidate they voted for — a vote that would be a new felony mark against the ex-cons.

In a hearing tomorrow that may say a lot about the odds of the Republican lawsuit succeeding, Democratic attorneys will argue that to overturn the election because of illegal votes by felons, Republicans should have to prove who each of the felons voted for — Gov. Christine Gregoire or Republican candidate Dino Rossi.

Democrats look at that prospect with a mix of revulsion and glee. It's the reductio ad absurdum that could stop the election lawsuit in its slow-moving tracks.

Democratic Party attorney Jenny Durkan says Republicans don't like to imagine the "ugly scene, this parade of felons, taking their Fifth Amendment rights."

"The thing the Republicans don't want to admit is it's not supposed to be easy to overturn an election. This isn't a case about convenience. When you ask a court to overturn an election you're supposed to have a high burden."

How can it possibly hurt Republicans to draw a connection in peoples' minds between a thousand felons and the election of a Democrat?

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 2, 2005 12:00 AM

But what if they all say they voted for Rossi?

Posted by: erp at May 2, 2005 9:04 AM

The GOP gets credit for exposing criminality and they get second strikes. Win/win

Posted by: oj at May 2, 2005 9:07 AM

The King County Elections Division is a sewer pit of either incompetence or criminality or a combination of both.

Posted by: pchuck at May 2, 2005 9:50 AM

Let's see if I understand this. Felon votes. That is a crime. Felon is called to witness stand by plaintiff. Felon takes fifth. This is a civil suit, right? Under every state law that I know of, the Court can draw an adverse presumption from the failure to answer, unlike in a criminal case. But I have only had to think about the issue when the witness was a party, for example, a defendant in a civil securities fraud lawsuit who was also under criminal investigation by the IRS for tax fraud arising out of the same transactions. Anybody?

Posted by: Dan at May 2, 2005 10:18 AM

Shouldn't the apparent fact that there were many more illegal votes than the eventual winning margin be enough to overturn the election and require a revote?

Posted by: jd watson at May 2, 2005 4:14 PM