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Monday, September 05, 2011

Is This Fair?

I'm not sure that most of you are aware of this but the King County Elections bureau unilaterally decided NOT to allow candidates to update their statements for the General Election Voters pamphlet either in print or on-line.  I don't know the reasoning.

This is ridiculous.  All the work that any candidate has done in the primary season will not be reflected in the voters' guide.  Many of the incumbents, not being new to elections, secured endorsements early on while challengers got up to speed and many received endorsement during the primary season.  Those new endorsements, whether for incumbents OR challengers, will not appear in the voters' guide. 

I urge you all to call (206-296-8683) or e-mail King County elections and urge them to rethink their position.  The candidates aren't asking for more space - just the ability to update their candidate area.

Or write to the Seattle Times and register your thoughts (opinion@seattletimes.com)

Or write to King County Executive Dow Constantine and register your concern (kcexec@kingcounty.gov or 206-296-4040).

Or, do all of the above.

11 comments:

Marty McLaren, School Board Candidate said...

Thanks for calling attention to this, Melissa. It doesn't add to public knowledge of candidates to simply reprint old statements. We would all be better served by up to date information.

Anonymous said...

I came back from visiting family back east to find that my signature was challenged. Now I have to go re-register to vote in November and my primary votes didn't count. I've been voting by mail for years!

SolvayGirl

Steve said...

Thanks Melissa. Especially in a world where a lot of people get their information on-line, it's strange that they wouldn't allow changes to the web version. I've sent an email...

Kathy said...

I spoke to the Election Bureau about this matter. There are issues around translation. None the less, not updating the voters pamphlet is unacceptable.

I felt encouraged by receiving a response from the King County Executive's office about this issue.

I hope others take the time to send a quick e-mail.

I'd always believed voters pamphlet provided accurate and updated information- it isn't true. This policy must be changed.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Kathy, interesting because no one gave me that reasoning. I was told it was time and resources.

First of all, they have to update the guide anyway to reflect primary results. Second, updating a paragraph for any candidate who wants it (and some may not) is not a lot of work. I wrote to Constantine and volunteered to do it for free (which I think would take made an afternoon).

I was told by KC Elections spokesperson that "it's a judgment call on your part that this decision favors the incumbents." All I can say - for ALL candidates - is that a lot shifts during the primary season. It seems like a good think to make sure the guide is updated and not out-of-date except as reflecting primary results.

Also, she seemed a bit miffed that I wanted to know who approved this change and when it happened.

Kathy said...

"it's a judgment call on your part that this decision favors the incumbents."

I disagree. Endorsements will not be updated for the general election. This is an enormous disadvantage to worthy challengers that have been getting post primary endorsements throughout the city.

If these endorsements are not published, it will reflect poorly on challengers.

I can understand translation costs dollars. Yet, I also believe it is the responsibility of the Election Bureau to provide the public with updated and accurate information.

I would also like to know the manner in which this policy was approved.

Thanks for your work on this issue.

Penny said...

Melissa,

I appreciate your willingness to do it, but I'm pretty sure you couldn't get it done in an afternoon. You would need to contact every single candidate in every city and town in the booklet and get their approval to add or even to leave alone an entry. It's got to be 100% equal treatment, and I'm sure as someone working for the challengers in several campaigns you wouldn't be accepted as the writer for some or all of the updates in certain races.

That's why it's got to be done by the approved elections bureau people whether or not you agree.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Penny, I was kidding.

But c'mon, you send a global e-mail to candidates (and they know how to find them), a deadline for any changes and then make them. They did this before,you know.

And make it EVEN easier: you can't change your statement, only your endorsement area.

Melissa Westbrook said...

From Sherill Huff, head of KC Elections:

"This year the deadline to submit voter pamphlet statements and photos was June 17, 2011 at 4:30 p.m. Our office moved to a single in deadline in 2010 consistent with the Secretary of State’s policy to have one submission deadline which is the Friday following the last day of the filing period (WAC 434-381-120). This change was made due to the tight time constraints in producing the voters pamphlet and meeting publication deadlines with vendors. Our office has also worked hard to reduce the cost of producing the voters pamphlet and multiple statement submissions increased the cost due to the need for staffing increases and federal requirements to provide translated versions.

Every candidate filing for office has the opportunity with their statement to address their qualifications and explain to voters why they think they would be the best person for the position. All candidate statements are printed exactly as submitted, King County Elections does not fact check or correct punctuation, grammar, syntax errors or inaccurate information. Candidates are able to provide contact information, including an electronic address, such as a website that voters can use to get up to date information about the candidate."

I looked up the WAC and I'm not sure it says what she says it says.

Confused voter said...

Melissa, I'm confused. Do you think Ms. Huff is incorrect in her interpretation of voting law, which is what she is being paid to get right? Or is something more sinister going on-that she's deliberately favoring incumbents? Or is it that the powers that be above her have indicated she fall into line? I just don't know enough about this to be sure.

What do YOU think the law means, if you think Ms. Huff has it wrong? There seems to be a lot at stake.

Anonymous said...

At the end of WAC 434-381-120:

(4) The deadlines stated in this rule are intended to promote the timely publication of the voters' pamphlet. Nothing in this rule shall preclude the secretary of state from accepting a late filing when, in the secretary's judgment, it is reasonable to do so. Once statements or arguments are submitted to the secretary, changes by the candidate or committee will not be accepted unless requested by the secretary.

Sam Reed, are you listening?

Mr. Ed