Sunday, October 17, 2004

Crapped Out 

With the voter-registration story below, we appear to have used up our happy-ending allotment for the month of October. In Las Vegas on Friday, an elected Republican judge ruled that Democratic voters whose registration forms were illegally destroyed by the RNC-funded "Voters Outreach of America" would not be given the opportunity to re-register. Her logic? Honoring the rights of swindled voters might "open the floodgates" to "additional fraud and manipulation":
"This court does not believe that there is any way to ensure that only those individuals legitimately affected will register if the time period is extended," [District Judge Valerie Adair] said. "There is no guarantee that hundreds of people will not seek to register or claim that they have been impacted."

The appropriate remedy under Nevada law is for those who believe they've been wrongfully denied the right to vote to file individual lawsuits against the Clark County registrar asking to be included on the voter rolls, Adair said.

"The interests of the affected individuals do not justify overriding the statutes enacted by our Legislature and embarking upon a highly dangerous path where the claims of a single individual can impact the voter registration practice of an entire county," Adair said.

The judge pointed to a disclaimer on registration forms that says if voters do not return registration forms themselves or personally mail them to the elections office, they risk not being registered.
Any lawsuit, of course, would not be resolved until after the election. KLAS-TV 8, the station that broke the original story, reports that Judge Adair appears to have had a mysterious change of heart during the lunchtime recess:
This morning, Judge Valerie Adair basically accepted as fact that voter registration forms had been destroyed by someone and that an unknown number of voters were in danger of being disenfranchised as a result. But by Friday afternoon, it was a much different story.

Judge Adair had told the two parties in the case -- the Democratic Party and the elections dept., to go away and hammer out an agreement that would satisfy both, something along the lines of a one day, restricted re-opening of voter registration that would be available to persons who felt they had been scammed by private registration companies.

She told them to cut a deal and to come back in the afternoon. When they came back, there was no discussion of the deal. Instead, the judge ruled from the bench, saying there wasn't a lot of proof.

She said of the five torn up registrations, only two were legitimate and such a small number did not warrant re-opening voter registration. She said she needed more concrete evidence and added, "This will create additional fraud and manipulation."

During the morning hearing, Judge Adair had accepted the premise that egregious acts had been committed by someone in the destruction of registration forms. By later, she said the allegations were unsubstantiated, even though she chose not to hear testimony or to ask questions about other documentation that was offered to the court.

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