recallreed blog

This blog is established to recall Washington State Secretary of State Sam Reed for failure to perform his duty. You may comment and submit information on-line. If you would like to help, contact Linda Jordan, State Coordinator, at People are encouraged to download, print and share the petition text with others but petitions for signature gathering can not be printed until the Attorney General writes the ballot synopsis and the sufficiency of the charges are upheld in Court.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

This is no time to be slow-dancing on voting reform


OLYMPIA -- State legislators should quit worrying about Gov. Christine Gregoire's legitimacy and start worrying about their own.
An old Capitol hand offered this advice on divining lawmakers' intent: "Don't listen to the music; watch 'em dance."

Republicans and Democrats spent the first few days of the session dancing a partisan tango, an artificial rose of election credibility clenched in their teeth.
"We've got work to do," Democrats argued against delaying the confirmation of Gregoire's election.

Yes, and the first task is election reform. They've got to get to work, and fast, on not only the reforms that we've long known were needed but also the reforms the recent election has proved are needed.

How quickly and successfully lawmakers move on these reforms will be one good measure of their legitimate concern for the interests of their constituents.

Election reform is a hot public issue, and the interest is not limited to sore-loser Dino Rossi fans or rabble-rousing bloggers. Constituents are saying, you want to do something for us; you want to fix something? Fix this.

Legislators of both political stripes have their own specific stakes in this. Republicans bemoaned the fact that members of the military -- fighting, bleeding and dying for their country -- received their absentee ballots too late to vote (although county elections records indicate the ballots were mailed by the federal deadline). The first and best way to fix that is to give more time to get all the absentee ballots mailed out by moving the date of the primary back, say, to June. Secretaries of state have proposed that for years, and Republican Rep. Mike Armstrong told me he got a bill passed in the House last year only to have it die in the Senate.

Political integrity would seem to demand that legislation to change the primary date garner a host of votes from minority Republicans. And it will be a gut test for incumbents in both caucuses because it could erode some of the incumbent advantage in election contests.
Republicans, too, should already be asking themselves what changes should or even could be made in time to affect the revote of the governor's election that so many of them have been rooting for. How about those brave men and women in uniform? Can we get ballots to them for a timely revote, and how?

Democrats don't dare slack off on election reform unless they're interested only in sweeping under the rug the lingering concerns over the legitimacy of Gregoire's victory. If it needs to be fixed, it must be broken, right? But does agreeing that it needs to be fixed amount to admitting that their candidate came to power via a broken process?

For her part, Gregoire exhibited a tin ear to the public mood over the election by announcing her appointment of a task force, giving it until the session is well more than one-third over to come up with suggestions for improvement and then picking Sam Reed to lead it.
Don't misunderstand. Reed is an honorable man who has handled this troubled election with commendable even-handedness.

"There are some people," Reed has said, "who have been dismayed that I wasn't a Katherine Harris who took the position, 'I'm a Republican, and by God that comes first.' "

Well, by God he didn't. And that's gotten him in hot water with many fellow Republicans (compare the whoops and hollers the Republican side of the aisle gave incoming Attorney General Rob McKenna on inauguration day to the tepid claps for Reed). Reed is even the target of a nascent recall campaign.

It wouldn't be unreasonable for even those with casual concerns about the election to question Reed as watchdog when it's the election process over which he presided that's been deemed to need watching.

Reed is wrong for the election oversight task and March 1 is too long to wait for legislators to get started rewriting election laws.

Don't waltz when you should be boot-scootin'.

Thomas Shapley is an editorial writer and member of the P-I Editorial Board. E-mail:


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