Friday, August 05, 2005
Public Service Pulitzer: If the rules allowed it, SoundPolitics.com's Stefan Sharkansky would receive the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Sharkansky is no Hemingway, but he alone has done more to expose the disaster that is the King County (Washington) elections department than the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Seattle Times combined. In addition to doing extensive research on voterless ballots, missing ballots, fraudulent ballots, et cetera, ad infinitum, Sharkansky has doggedly pursued corruption and incompetence in the elections department of Washington's largest county.
Yesterday afternoon, Sharkansky finally got his hands on some more documents and discovered that King County "misled" the Department of Justice and Washington's Secretary of State on the status of overseas military ballots.
King County did NOT mail all of the required military and overseas ballots by the Oct. 8th deadline. Dozens if not hundreds of King County military ballots that should have gone out on the 8th were sent out late. Over 5,000 non-military ballots covered by the UOCAVA guidelines (overseas citizens, possibly military dependents) were sent out at least 4 days late and hundreds of others appear to have been sent more than 4 days late.
I contacted both the Secretary of State's office and King County Records and Elections yesterday to give them an opportunity to respond to my findings. The Secretary of State's office responded today with evidence indicating that King County misled them last October. King County did not dispute my findings.
By sending out the ballots late, King County effectively disenfranchised thousands of voters. Whether this is a sign of gross incompetence or something more sinister would be up to a prosecutor to determine.
What is certain is that King County is the new Chicago. Washington State residents should be outraged. Some public officials should be fired or in jail (or both). Sharkansky should get a Pulitzer.
Speaking as a journalist, if I worked at the Times or the Post-Intelligencer I would be embarrassed at getting beat -- repeatedly -- by a blogger doing this sort of thing in his spare time. If you're wondering if those two papers liberal editorial stances have affected their news coverage, I think the fact that Sharkansky is breaking news, rather than commenting on news articles by the two major papers, is all the answer you need.