Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 46° Partly Cloudy
News >  WA Government

Spin Control: Canceling voter registration won’t keep info from Trump election panel

An election ballot is placed in ballot box outside of the Spokane Public Library on Nov. 7, 2016, downtown Spokane. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
An election ballot is placed in ballot box outside of the Spokane Public Library on Nov. 7, 2016, downtown Spokane. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

A few Washingtonians are apparently so angry or apprehensive about a federal commission’s request for information from the state’s voter database that they are thinking about canceling their registration.

Tempting as it may be, it won’t really do them any good.

The request – some see it as a demand – from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity resulted in many states’ election officials telling the commission to pound sand, or something more colorful that can’t be printed in this newspaper. Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, generally too polite for such a response, said the commission can go check the internet and grab any information already available to any member of the public.

And not a byte more.

Under Washington law, that’s basically name, address, date of birth. It’s not Social Security Number or any portion thereof, driver’s license number, phone number or email address. The commission would also like party affiliation, but the joke’s on them. We don’t register by party, so it can just put an N/A for not applicable in that column for everybody. Or a nyah, nyah.

But a federal commission getting hold of just those basics can give a person pause, which has led to a few people calling either Wyman’s office, or the Spokane County Elections Office, to talk about canceling.

The Denver Post reports that some 3,400 Colorado voters have canceled their registrations. In Washington, such actions so far have been limited to a handful.

“We tell them their information is already in the database and canceling now won’t change that,” Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton said.

If, for example, you were registered for the 2016 presidential election, canceling now won’t take you out of the database if someone asks for the voter rolls from last November.

County Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin said the local staff has fielded about 10 inquiries, with two resulting in requests to mail a cancellation form. One of those voters apparently filled out the form and mailed it in, then changed her mind, sending the elections office an email canceling her cancellation. When the form arrives, they’ll ignore it and she’ll stay registered, McLaughlin said.

The other voter who requested a form hasn’t returned it. Dalton is hoping the requests remain low.

“The only person they’re hurting is themselves,” she said. “They’re losing their voice with their vote.”

Meanwhile, despite any concern over where registration data might wind up, Washington voter rolls topped 4.3 million last week for the first time.

A rare thing

It is an unusual email that contains both an obvious lie and a great truth in close proximity. But initiative impresario Tim Eyman managed that with a missive sent out on Thursday as he ventured into the Seattle mayor’s race.

The obvious lie was in the subject line: “Join me @ 1 p.m., I’m helping Jessyn Farrell.” Eyman would no more help Farrell, a liberal Democratic legislator running for mayor, than she would accept his help.

The great truth was in the opening sentence: “As an expert at cheap media stunts …”

Eyman has dressed in a gorilla suit, a Darth Vader costume and an orange jumpsuit with duct tape over his mouth in various attempts to draw media attention to his initiatives or legislation that would restrict them. But he had no intention of helping Farrell, who opposes his latest initiative effort against Sound Transit. He was going to her press event at a future light rail station – which he considered a cheap stunt – to offer an opposing view.

As a Mukilteo resident, Eyman can’t even vote in the Seattle mayor’s race. If anything, Farrell was helping him by assembling reporters and television cameras in a convenient place for him to talk about his initiative. Which brings up the question: Who was actually engaging in a cheap media stunt?

Going through the motions

As the Legislature’s third special session drags on, it gets harder to find any evidence of actual legislative activity, let alone legislators.

Take Friday morning, when both the Senate and House were scheduled for “pro forma” sessions, which are quick in-and-outs with a bare minimum of lawmakers present. The Senate managed it in a matter of minutes with Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, and Sen. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, going through the motions.

In the House, however, there were no representatives present at the appointed time.

Chief Clerk Bernard Dean, who is not a legislator, stepped up to the microphone, banged the gavel to open the session, made a motion to adjourn and banged the gavel to close it.

Was it kosher to run the show without a single rep present? It was, Jim Richards, of House Democratic Communications, confirmed. The speaker can designate any member to preside over the House, and if none is available he can designate the chief clerk, who is elected by the House to that position.

But if no representative is around, it seems it should be called a “no forma” session and skipped entirely.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.