Homeless voters' address defended
Seattle Times staff reporter
According to King County election records, most of the voters in Precinct 37-1823 live under a single roof in downtown Seattle: the County Administration Building at 500 Fourth Ave.
The voters don't really live in the building, except for those who may sleep on the loading dock during the winter months as part of a free shelter program.
The county elections office, which is headquartered in that building, has allowed homeless people to use its address for the purpose of registering to vote.
Elections Director Dean Logan last week declined a request by Chris Clifford that the county delay certifying results of the manual recount for governor and investigate the registration of more than 300 new voters who used the county address.
Clifford, a Renton resident, said in a letter to Logan that the county administration building "is not a valid mailing address for individuals registering to vote. This is a serious violation of state law and the procedures put in place by that law for guarding against voter fraud."
Clifford acknowledged that state law allows the homeless to register using such "nontraditional" addresses as shelters and parks, but he said he found no law that authorizes the county to accept mail for private individuals.
Logan yesterday defended use of the county building as an address for homeless voters who frequent the streets of the downtown precinct along the north side of Yesler Way.
"It's not a county policy, it's state law," Logan said. "The Washington Administrative Code specifically states that a person without a traditional residential address cannot be disqualified from being a registered voter, and they may use a nontraditional address such as a shelter or a park or some other address they deem to be their address."
Those homeless voters' lack of a traditional mailing address would prevent them from registering as permanent absentee voters, Logan said. Instead, they can vote only at a polling place.
He said he did not know the exact number of homeless voters who used the administration building as their address and did not dispute a report that 527 of the precinct's 763 registered voters do so.
Shane Hamlin, the secretary of state's legislative liaison, said the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and prior court rulings forbid states and counties from refusing to register voters on grounds that they don't have a permanent home address.
The homeless must meet all other requirements for voter registration.
Disputes over the conduct of the election have raged during three counts of votes for governor. King County's hand recount last week put Democrat Christine Gregoire ahead of Republican Dino Rossi. Rossi had won two earlier machine counts.
The state Republican Party has made an extensive request for King County election records and has said it is considering a lawsuit aimed at overturning the results of the hand recount.
Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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