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Freedom foundation claims election problems already evident

OLYMPIA-Less than four hours after the polls opened today, a representaive of Evergreen Freedom Foundation (EFF) said EFF had identified several problems in the 2005 general election.

"We still see a basic disregard for the law and a lack of accountability by election officials," said Jonathan Bechtle, director of EFF's Voter Integrity Project.

Among the problems Bechtle identified:

?Absentee ballots in King County are being unlawfully forwarded by the post office, because ballots do not include warnings against forwarding, as required by law. This also occurred in the primary, was brought to King County elections chief Dean Logan's attention, and yet has happened again today.

?Absentee ballots in King County are not being accounted for properly. Ballots were lost in the 2004 general election, in the 2005 primary, and again today.

?The voting rolls still list scores of illegal voters, including the dead, duplicates registrants, felons (who have not had their voting rights restored), and non-citizens. The Republican Party found 6,000 double voters with a simple search; many more remain. Also, the Secretary of State still has no way to verify citizenship. All of these people have an opportunity to vote today.

?Double votes will again be counted, as the voter crediting process was not standardized by the Secretary of State. This occurred in the primary and will undoubtedly take place again today.

?Ballots with mismatched signatures will be counted. Signature-matching procedures remain inconsistent between the counties; the criteria for matching signatures is flawed.

"The one consistency we've seen is a lack of leadership on the part of election officials," said Bechtle. "They blame all the problems on the process, the voter, or unwieldy laws. Secretary of State Reed and other officials are quick to assure the public that all is well; but refuse to take the necessary steps to make sure that's true."

Bechtle warned that the problems identified by EFF today are just the "tip of the iceberg".

"Additional errors resulting from these problems will surface in the coming weeks of tabulation and certification," Bechtle said. "The day after the primary election, Secretary Reed announced that no major problems had occurred. As in the 2004 election, however, the problems quickly became evident later in the process."

EFF encourages concerned citizens to contact their local county auditor or political party for information on how to observe the tabulation process.

More information is available at EFF's Election Observer Resource Center or www.effwa.org/vip.

"Since election officials seem more inclined to gloss over and ignore the issues, citizen observers are crucial," said Bechtle. "They must fill the leadership gap in cleaning up our election system."

The Evergreen Freedom Foundation's Voter Integrity Project has been monitoring election practices and reform efforts since the 2004 election debacle, and has released a number of reports on how to fix the system.

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