Wash. Democrats' lawsuit over 'GOP' tag threatens military vote

(EDITOR'S NOTE: On Friday, Sept. 26, a King County Superior Court judge rejected the lawsuit by Democrats regarding gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi's use of "GOP" on the ballot, according to an AP report. The report said Democrats would not appeal. The commentary below by Angie Vogt was written and published before the ruling. — The Mirror)

Last week I discussed Econ 101.

This week I had hoped to move into Econ 201, to discuss the bailout of Wall Street, but something nearer and dearer to my heart has come screaming to the front of the classroom. We’ll call today’s weekly writ, Civics 101.

Yesterday, I learned that the Washington State Democratic Party has filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Sam Reed regarding the election for our next governor. They insist that Dino Rossi — using the label “GOP” rather than “Republican” on the ballots — is deceptive and they are asking our public servants in the courts to require a reprint of over 3 million ballots.

An excerpt from the lawsuit reads as follows:

“Allowing Mr. Rossi to obscure his true party preference and affiliation directly violates the law, would mislead a substantial portion of the voting public and would breed cynicism and mistrust in our public institutions and, indeed, in our electoral process. This Court has the power and the duty to correct such threatened errors in the preparation and printing of the ballot and should exercise that power to protect the integrity of the electoral process.”

It’s noteworthy that Rossi used the “GOP” label in 2004 and for the primary ballots back in August. For whatever reason, the Democrats didn’t seem concerned a whit about “misleading the public” or “breeding cynicism” back then. They have decided at this late hour, just a couple of weeks before the ballots are mailed out, that “GOP,” an official designation for the Republican Party, which stands for “Grand Old Party,” is unacceptable.

I mentioned that this issue is near and dear to my heart. Here’s why. Today I received an e-mail from a friend who is the President of the Military Officers Association of America, Mt. Rainier Chapter. He is a retired Army Lt. Col. and wrote the following:

“I received a message today from an officer in the 81st Brigade of the WA National Guard. Our 81st BDE is currently in Wisconsin preparing to deploy incrementally starting next week through Kuwait into Iraq. I was advised that members of the 81st BDE are already receiving ballots from their county elections office and some have already voted. They had just heard of the lawsuit filed in Seattle that, if successful, would require all ballots to be redesigned, reprinted and mailed out a second time.”

With the 81st Brigade movement overseas starting next week, there is virtually no chance, in their opinion, that a new ballot can be designed, printed, addressed and mailed to the 81st Brigade in the limited time remaining before the election for them to receive a new ballot, vote and return the ballot in time for it to be counted. In essence, if this lawsuit is successful, it will disenfranchise approximately 1,600 Washington state citizen soldiers from the 2008 general election.

Should the Democrat Party succeed at this lawsuit, thousands of ballots will be immediately rendered invalid, by state law, that have already been sent to our deployed soldiers from Washington state, to include the 81st Brigade and thousands of active duty soldiers, sailors, Marines, Coast Guard and airmen serving elsewhere.

I believe this lawsuit is a deliberate shot at the military vote, which largely favors Republicans. In 2004, 28,000 military absentee ballots were sent from King County three days after the federally mandated due date of Oct. 10, jeopardizing the timely submission of ballots from those serving overseas.

Gov. Christine Gregoire, the Commander in Chief of our National Guard men and women, should call for an immediate cease and desist of this lawsuit from her party. If Democrats are so incensed and worried about the deception that “GOP” might cause, they are free to run ads and write letters warning the voting public. That is precisely the job of campaigns.

If you want to help protect our service members from disenfranchisement, contact State Rep. Mark Miloscia and State Sen. Tracey Eide and ask for their help in stopping this lawsuit from their political party. Also call the governor’s office and ask for her assistance in withdrawing this complaint before irreversible harm is done to the voting rights of our state guard reserve members in the upcoming general election: (360) 902-4111 (www.governor.wa.gov).

Every citizen, especially citizen soldiers, should have equal access to their right to vote and to have that vote counted.

Federal Way resident Angie Vogt: vogt.e@comcast.net. For past columns and further commentary, visit www.soundupdate.com.

Mark Miloscia: (360) 786-7898; email is through his website: www.leg.wa.gov/House/miloscia/

Tracey Eide: (360) 786-7658; www.leg.wa.gov/senate/eide/

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