Saturday, March 19, 2005

King Kounty Kalling

All you felon voters who helped elect Christine Gregoire Governor last fall, to 'splain yourselves':

Of [some of the] felons who apparently voted illegally in King County in the last general election, just 10 showed up in person yesterday at a hearing where they could challenge the county's move to purge them from the voter rolls.

And none of the 10 actually denied being a felon or presented evidence that voting rights had been restored.

Their most prevalent reaction yesterday was confusion of the sort that apparently led them to believe they could vote in the first place.

"I just had no idea," said Robert Vance, convicted of unlawful imprisonment and harassment in 1999. Vance told the hearing officer that he had been assured by a community corrections officer that he could register to vote because he had served his time.

Vance said when he showed up at the polling place and was allowed to vote, he was reassured. "I thought they do a check," he said.

....Senior Prosecuting Attorney Janine Joly said the Prosecutor's Office is culling through more than 800 alleged felon voters in King County identified by the GOP. She said her office would likely mail out more revocation notices as early as next week. In the end, illegal felon voters could number in the hundreds, she said.

....Under Washington law, felons can petition the court to have their right to vote restored after showing they have completed their sentences and paid all restitution and fines.

Some of the 10 voters at the hearing clearly felt they were on trial again. Logan was seated at a dais and Joly, as the prosecutor, at a table in front of him.

...."You're just going to take that felony and rub my nose in it over and over again," complained Kenneth Mason, 47, who has convictions for theft, forgery and drugs. "I just don't feel I should continue to suffer."

Two of the men took the opportunity to claim they'd been framed by the police. Another, Gilbert Dale Hart, 50, convicted in 2000 for a drug violation, sat sullenly while Logan explained the process. Hart apparently believed the notification letter he'd been sent was a summons ordering him to a court.

"Can I go now?" he asked after Logan had finished.

Another, 51-year-old Arthur Welsh, convicted of felony malicious mischief in 2000, asked what the criminal penalty for casting an illegal ballot might be. Told it was a class C felony, punishable by a year in prison and a fine up to $5,000, he replied, "Then my statement is, I wasn't aware."

Just another member of the club in King Kounty, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by over 2:1.

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