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Sunday Spin: Clarification on candidate ad rules

Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton wrote recently to say that at the urging of a legislator she had delved deeper into state election law than when we last spoke, and discovered state law does not require candidates to list the office or position they are seeking in advertising. That’s contrary to what was reported in last week’s column on possible jockeying in the 4th Legislative District.

It does, however, have rules for a candidate running for re-election to a seat currently or previously held, or to keep an appointed seat. So the office and position could come into play on advertising in those cases, she wrote.

The two House seats in Spokane Valley’s 4th Legislative District have seven announced candidates, all of them Republicans, but they’re unlikely to be the business primaries in the state.

That distinction is likely to go to Central Washington’s 4th Congressional District seat being vacated by Richard “Doc” Hastings. Six Republicans and one Democrat have already notified the Federal Elections Commission they might run.

Also of note: The state usually has three Supreme Court races in an even-numbered year, but this year there will be four. Mary Yu, who was appointed to the seat of retired Justice Jim Johnson, must run for election and already has one opponent, Bruce Hilyer.

Sunday Spin: Pick your race, then file

Last week’s steady stream of candidates announcing they plan to run for some office or another is a sign that filing week is nearly upon us.

May 12 through 16 is the time for a candidate to go from talking about running for office to putting money where his or her mouth is, and then attaching it to the required paperwork and filing it with county or state elections officials.

Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton had a word of advice recently for would-be candidates contemplating their runs. It boils down to “do all your contemplating before filing and paying your fee.”

Apparently some candidates in the 4th Legislative District have been talking about filing early in the week for one House seat, and maybe switching later in the week if the field for the other seat seems to offer better prospects.

Right now, the state Public Disclosure Commission lists seven House candidates in the 4th, all Republicans. Five haven’t indicated which seat they will seek, leaving the space marked “Position No.” blank, or putting a U – presumably for “undecided” – or a NA, which usually stands for not applicable.

In this case, the position number is very applicable. You file and run for one or the other, and must say so on your campaign signs and literature and candidacy petitions.

Presumably, this is all about jockeying to see who will run for the seat that was vacated last year by long-time Rep. Larry Crouse, to which Leonard Christian was appointed. Christian is willing to say he’s seeking No. 1, which he currently holds. Yet Rep. Matt Shea, who has held the No. 2 position since winning it in 2008, considers it “NA”.

Shea has already endorsed Robert McCaslin for the House, who is also running NA, but presumably not NSS, or Not Shea’s Seat.

Josh Arritola of Chattaroy, the head of a management consulting firm, made the formal announcement last week that he’s running against Shea. He may be waiting for Shea to pick a number to replace the U on his form and put it to his web site. (There was a time when candidates chose their race before designing a web site, but that’s probably so 2000s.)

The position number can be added to a web site with a few key strokes by a programmer. It can be attached to a yard sign or a bill board with stickers. Changing it on a petition of candidacy after it’s filed with elections officials next week isn’t so easy. In fact, it’s not possible, Dalton said. A candidate can switch races only by withdrawing from the first race, which means forfeiting that filing fee, then filing new paperwork for the other race. And paying the fee again.

Elections officials won’t mind taking two fees from the same candidate. But it might not sound good for anyone running as a fiscal conservative in the Spokane Valley’s 4th District. And does anyone run as anything else in the 4th?

After thumping in election, Ahern pays for hand recount

A Spokane City Council candidate who lost big in his attempt to unseat incumbent Councilman Jon Snyder is demanding a recount.

John Ahern, a former state representative, sent a letter to the Spokane County Auditor’s Office on Monday requesting that four precincts be recounted. A check for $429.50 was attached. That’s a quarter for each of 1,718 ballots that he wants recounted.

County Auditor Vicky Dalton says candidates have the right to pay for a recount even if a race isn’t close. Ahern probably will end up paying closer to $1,500 because state law says that he has to pay the full cost of a recount.


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Time is fading for new Washingtonians to register to vote

 

Register to vote today, or wait in a really long line on Monday.

That’s the message from Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton for those who want to vote in the November election but still aren’t registered.

Monday is the deadline to register, but Dalton warns that in 2008 — the last presidential election year, the county elections office was slammed on the deadline date.

Roskelley challenge dismissed

A visiting county auditor dismissed the challenge to John Roskelley's voter registration, and the Democratic challenger will appear on the ballot for the Spokane County commissioner in District 1.

That will likely bring to an end the separate challenge in Spokane County Superior Court, which tried to block Roskelley from the ballot on a different tack.

The challenge to his voter registration was filed first, by Spokane County Republican Chairman Matthew Pederson, who argued that Roskelley wasn't properly registered because he used an address where he doesn't currently have a house, or any other building.

Roskelley had moved out of his long-time home in the district witih plans to build a new home on East Heron View Lane, and used that location on his voter registration. But he was living with his son, whose house is outside the district, while completing a building permit for the property.

A commissioner candidate must live and run in that particular district in the primary. Pederson argued that Roskelley didn't; Roskelley said he was acting on information from Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton about where a legal residence is for registering to vote, and said Pederson's complaint was just politics.

In previous court cases, the intention to move to a particular location has been ruled enough to allow a candidate to claim that as a residence for voter registration.

Dalton recused herself from the complaint and asked Chelan County Auditor Skip Moore to hear the case. This afternoon Moore said Roskelley presented enough evidence to prove that his residence is the one on his voter registration.

Roskelley faces Republican County Commissioner Todd Mielke in the primary. Because they are the only two candidates for that office, they'll run countywide in the November general election.

Dalton said she'd begin printing primary ballots, which must be mailed to overseas and military voters by June 22.

Allen wins second count, but a third awaits

Former Councilman Mike Allen's lead over incumbent Richard Rush grew by three to 91 on Wednesday after a recount of the Spokane City Council election for the city's south district.

The race was recounted by machine because the result from the first count was within half of 1 percentage point. Rush said he still plans to pursue a hand recount, which the Spokane County Democratic Party has agreed to finance.

Results of a hand recount in the 4th Legislative District senate race, which also was completed Wednesday and was paid for by candidate Jeff Baxter, may not give Rush much hope for much change.

Baxter paid more than $1,700 to have 10 precincts recounted in his race against state Sen. Mike Padden. Election workers who tallied the ballots Wednesday morning found two errors. Baxter lost a vote, and one vote that had been counted as blank was changed to a write-in, for the candidate “N/A.”

In the Rush-Allen race, Rush's tally was found to be too high by two and Allen gained a vote after a ballot that had been counted as blank was found to have been marked for Allen.

Election Manager Mike McLaughlin said he can't say for sure why Rush's count fell by two. One possibility is that after paper jams occurred in the machines, ballots that already had been counted may have been sent through a second time, he said.

Each campaign involved in the two recounts had observers at the Elections Office.

Baxter lost to Padden by 3,638 votes. He said he paid for the recount with his personal money and did so because results in some precincts conflicted with data campaign workers collected when going door-to-door. The outcome hints that in a future race volunteers need to do a better job reaching voters when they're home, he said.

“I didn't think anything insidious was going on,” Baxter said. “I'm just saying that we need to work a little harder in different precincts.”

Baxter said he hasn't decided if he will run again next year.

Last week, Rush indicated that Baxter may have paid for a recount to prevent Rush's race from being recounted by hand. Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton originally requested that the City Council race be counted by hand to test new scanners in the county's voting machines. But she changed course after Baxter opted to pay for a recount in his race.

“It had absolutely nothing to do with his race,” Baxter said. “I don't have the time to be playing those games.”

Baxter pays for recount

Former state Sen. Jeff Baxter is paying for a partial recount of ballots in his unsuccessful bid to retain his Spokane Valley seat despite losing the race by more than 3,400 votes.

Baxter’s opponent in the contest, Mike Padden, was sworn in as senator representing the 4th Legislative District on Tuesday soon after the Spokane County Canvassing Board certified the results.

Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton said Baxter submitted a check for $1,174 to recount 10 precincts. She said he was required to make a down payment of 25 cents per ballot. He will get a refund if the cost of the recount is less.

Baxter, who was appointed to the seat earlier this year, lost it in the November election by 3,437 votes after garnering only 45 percent of the vote.

Reached Wednesday afternoon, Baxter declined to comment when asked if he thought the race was fair. He noted that state law doesn’t require candidates to say why they are asking for a recount and said he would answer questions after a recount is completed.

Mike Padden, who was in the middle of his second day as the 4th District’s new state senator Tuesday afternoon, said he had just been informed that Baxter had asked for a recount but didn’t know “what his rationale is.”

“The vote was pretty overwhelming. It doesn’t make sense to me,” Padden said.

“There is a high undervote,” he said, referring to the term used for a ballot that had no candidate marked for that race. “But you’d expect a high undervote when there’s no Democrat in the race.”


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Rush-Allen recount will be done by hand

The final outcome of the City Council race for a seat representing south Spokane won’t be decided until next week.

That’s when the Spokane County Election’s Office will recount ballots in a contest so close that state law required a second examination.

Former Councilman Mike Allen leads incumbent Richard Rush by a mere 88 votes.

Although it’s a lead of less than half a percentage point, it is a wide enough margin that is unlikely to shrink enough to change, considering past recounts. Recounts in Spokane County have generally changed tallies by a few votes or less.

The Spokane County Canvassing Board on Tuesday unanimously agreed to Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton’s recommendation to count ballots by hand. State law only would have required the recount to be done manually if the difference had been within a quarter of a percentage point.

Dalton argued that the council race is the county’s first chance to test official ballots on a large scale since new scanners were installed this summer in the county’s six vote-counting machines, which were manufactured by Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software.

“A recount is a very rare opportunity to let us test the accuracy of the machines using the real ballots marked by actual voters,” Dalton said.

She added: “It’s an attempt to give closure to the candidates in the most definitive way possible.”

Mapping the 2010 vote: County auditor

Data from Spokane County Elections Office/Computer analysis by Spin Control