Democrats flag 743 votes they say felons cast
Democrats said in court papers yesterday that they've identified 743 felons who voted illegally in the November election. And in a separate...
Seattle Times chief political reporter
Democrats said in court papers yesterday that they've identified 743 felons who voted illegally in the November election.
And in a separate filing in Chelan County Superior Court, Democrats said they've added two academic experts to their legal team to help show that those felons, as well as 946 submitted earlier by Republicans, are more likely to have voted for Republican Dino Rossi than Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire.
"We know for a fact that nonunion, blue-collar, Caucasian men vote very disproportionately Republican, and when you look at the felon population in the state of Washington, they are overwhelmingly nonunion, blue-collar, male Caucasians," said state Democratic Party Chairman Paul Berendt.
"This could be under any other circumstance the prime demographic Republicans target in their" get-out-the-vote effort, he said.
Republicans said they already found errors in the Democrats' earlier list of alleged felons and will carefully review the latest filing.
Yesterday was the deadline for Democrats to submit a list of alleged illegal votes. The 743 is the total number of felons the party said voted and includes those they announced previously.
Republicans, who sued over the election, earlier submitted their list.
State Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance said that 31 of the people included on an early Democratic list were among the felons listed by Republicans. He also said he doubts the accuracy of the Democratic claim that residents at Western State Hospital voted illegally because they had been found mentally incompetent. Vance said Republicans investigated those votes earlier and were unable to determine whether they were illegal.
"It feels to me like the Democrats are desperately trying to build a last line of defense," Vance said.
Republicans also will argue that felons are more likely to vote Democratic. They already have cited one study they say shows that.
Rossi spokeswoman Mary Lane also noted that Democrats sponsored national and state legislation to automatically restore a felon's voting rights after the felon leaves prison.
"I don't think they're just supporting that legislation out of the goodness of their heart," she said. "It's to expand their voter base."
Rossi filed a lawsuit in January claiming that illegal votes and mistakes by election officials polluted the results of the November governor's election. He asked that the election be overturned and Gregoire be removed from office. Rossi initially was declared the winner of the election, the closest governor's race in the nation's history. He won the first count by 261 votes and a machine recount by 42. But after a hand recount, Gregoire was declared the winner by 129 votes.
A trial on the Republican claims is scheduled to begin in Wenatchee on May 23.
Berendt said the 743 felons Democrats discovered were not included on the Republican list and come from counties or parts of counties that voted heavily for Rossi. He said Republicans are trying to conceal illegal votes from Republican parts of the state.
The reports from the Democrats' expert witnesses, University of Washington professors Christopher Adolph and Mark Handcock, are not due in court until next week. Berendt said he didn't want to presume what they would say. But he said he hopes they can make the case for a demographic analysis of felon voters based on age, race, gender and economic status, while at the same time discrediting the Republican plan to apportion felon votes based solely on geography.
Judge John Bridges has granted Democrats a special hearing to challenge the Republicans' expert witnesses and their statistical analysis. Republicans want Bridges to apportion alleged illegal votes by the same percentage as the total vote in any given precinct.
Berendt said the party's attorneys would still move to block the use of statistical analysis in the case. But, if they are not successful, Democrats are simultaneously preparing their own statistical analysis.
"You play the cards you're dealt," Berendt said. "And we believe we can use their standard to show that Gregoire won and perhaps even expanded her margin in this election."
The Democrats' academic experts are on the faculty at the UW's Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences. Adolph is an assistant professor of political science; Handcock is a professor of statistics and sociology.
So far, Democrats and Republicans have relied on county voter crediting records to determine whether a felon voted in November. But Bridges ruled Monday that those records are not reliable enough to use in the trial. He set out a series of standards he wants met to prove that someone voted and is not just listed as having voted because of an administrative error.
David Postman: 360-943-9882 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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