The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

23 December 2004

The Real Washington Fights Back -- Finds its Own "Ballots"

Thanks to Jackie Juntti for this item. Nice to laugh about it, but stolen elections are a serious matter. The point in this "story" is well taken, that King County's fake "ballots" are no more legitimate than the ones these pranksters cooked up for this stunt.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Box of ‘ballots’ dropped off in Chehalis
By Brian Mittge

Eat your heart out, King County: Lewis County now has its own box of newly found ballots.

In a country bumpkin-style poke Monday morning at vote-counting problems in urban and urbane King County, several local Republicans brought in a dusty wooden crate overflowing with yellow “ballots” marked with illegible scribbled signatures.

“A guy at church gave them to me. Said he found them out behind his tavern,” Centralia leather and vinyl repairman Al Denison said to Lewis County Elections Supervisor Mariann Zumbuhl.

A quick inspection, however, showed the yellow vote-by-mail envelopes to be fakes, covered with gibberish.

Republicans, including Sheriff John McCroskey, said the group just wants to make sure every vote gets counted ­ even votes that have been sitting in the back of someone’s pickup truck since the Nov. 2 election.

“There must be 573 ballots in here,” Denison said in a speech prepared for the occasion, referring to the number of ballots found in King County last week.

That number has grown to 735 since local Republican activists Rene Remund, his son R.J., and radio talk show host John Panesko hatched the prank Friday.

Denison admitted the ballots don’t look real, but said they’re not too sure about the newly found ballots in King County, either.

McCroskey, a Republican who soon will leave office to sell emergency vehicles, said he was there to attest that the ballots had been kept secure ­ at least since Denison had taken them out of his truck.

Washington State Republican Party Chair Chris Vance has voiced suspicion about the ballots in King County, saying there isn’t sufficient evidence that the ballots were kept secured since the election.

After chortling over the joke, the local pranksters took the tongues out of their cheeks long enough to offer a bit of serious commentary about the growing ballot turmoil in King County.

Lewis County voted for Republican Dino Rossi over Democrat Christine Gregoire by more than a 2-to-1 margin, with a few hundred votes for the Libertarian candidate thrown in.

King County, by contrast, chose Gregoire by a slimmer 57 percent to 40 percent margin, yet if the newly found votes are counted, that margin is expected to tip the election to the Democrat.

“Can you imagine what would happen if Lewis County produced 700 ballots six weeks after the election?” Rene Remund said.

Lewis County Auditor Gary Zandell can imagine, and that’s why he wasn’t laughing at the joke by his fellow Republicans.

He said the problems in King County, where updated signatures weren’t scanned into the computer, aren’t as likely in his smaller office. Other problems can and do happen, he said, such as a proofreading error that appeared on a third of Lewis County’s ballots in September.

“What’s that saying, ‘There but for God go I’ ­ it could happen here,” Zandell said.

He’s anxiously awaiting Wednesday’s hearing before the state Supreme court over King County’s ballots.

“I have a great deal of compassion for my fellow election managers,” said Zandell, who has been the top voting official in Lewis County for 24 years. “As a body, I think we would like our elections stolen fair and square.”


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