fights to suppress voter turnout until the last minute
FIGHTING FOR THEIR
RIGHT TO VOTE After
being told they were not registered and could not vote, Eric and
Traci Amberson successfully challenged the county registrar of
voters and were permitted to cast their ballots at a polling place
in Sparks.They were allowed to cast full ballots including every
race, not just provisional federal votes. (PHOTO: Copyright ©
2004 Debra Reid, The Daily Sparks Tribune, used by permission.)
Monday, November 08, 2004,
11:40 PM PST
MEMO TO WASHOE COUNTY DEMOCRATIC
CHAIRMAN CHRIS WICKER FROM FELLOW ATTORNEY PETER CHASE NEUMANN
Chris, is anybody interested
in doing something about this? (See AP article at bottom.)
I believe at minimum we should meet with the Demo legislative caucus and
promulgate legislation that would require all persons and entities who
seek to register voters as "private registrars" to be legally
responsible for accounting for each registration form that is entrusted
to them by the County Voter Registrar (and the Sec. of State, if they
issue such registration forms).
Mon, 8 Nov 2004, 10:34:39 PST Andy,
Apparently there was an additional stealth effort aimed at Mexicans
in which the callers told the Mexicans that if Kerry won, they would
be sent back to Mexico the following day. They were also told that
if they voted for a Republican for president, they had to vote a
straight Republican ticket. We had several calls here in Fallon
asking us "Do I have to vote for the same party straight through?"
Ugly stuff and a worthless secretary of state and attorney
general, if you want my opinion.
At the Election Day 2004
court hearing that Judge Brent Adams conducted on the Amberson petition
for a Writ of Mandamus against Washoe County Registrar Dan Burk, which
I and Charles Springer and Gordon Cowan brought on behalf of the
Ambersons and all other WC voters similarly situated, Dan Burk himself
Mr. Burk admitted on examination that other than keeping a record of the
sequential numbers on the Voter Registration Forms that his office issues
to "private voter-registrars" (my name for them), his office
has no other record of their existence. He stated that he was worried
that if the "private registrar" loses, trashes, or otherwise
destroys the registration forms, there is no way to know what happened
to them! Only the ones that are returned to his office are accounted for.
Thus, if a private registrar simply tosses 1,000 of the 1,500 of these
forms that he/she was issued by the Official Registrar of the County,
into the trash, anyone could pick them out of the trash can, tear
off the perforated Receipt Number Certificate on the bottom, and then
go to the Voter Registrar's office on Election Day and claim the right
to vote. That is the reason Mr. Burk stated that he objected to Judge
Adams' Writ of Mandamus being broader than just Mr. and Mrs. Amberson
Burk said that there was no way to prevent anyone from bringing
one of these numbered receipts down and trying to vote.
Of course, on cross examination, Burk admitted that this was pretty unlikely
and far fetched, and the Judge ruled in favor of allowing not only the
Ambersons to cast their ballots, but ruled that any Washoe County citizen who
could present a numbered voter registration form receipt (i.e., the little
numbered "stub" of the kind identical to that which the Ambersons
produced), would be allowed to vote.
Because of stalling tactics of the Washoe DA's office that represented
Voter Registrar Burk, and the intervention of Republican attorney Pat
Lundvall, the judge's Order was never transmitted to the Washoe County
Voter Registrar's office until 6:20 p.m. on election night, with only
:40 minutes before the polls closed. This information was given me today
by a reliable source in the Washoe County Voter Registrar's Office. So
potentially hundreds of Washoe County voters of the 1,500 private registration
forms issued to the Sproul VOA group, may well have been disenfranchised,
even notwithstanding the Amberson's successful petition for a Writ of
(I requested Judge Adams to find the District Attorney in contempt of
court for ignoring the Judge's Writ, which he issued at about 12:45 p.m.
on election day. The judge declined to hold the DA in contempt, but the
judge was clearly and understandably upset that his Order was not transmitted
by the DA to the Voter Registrar for 5 precious hours).
But the importance of the Amberson vs. Burk hearing, and the testimony
of Dan Burk (I have the transcript which I can email to you), is to point
out the total inadequacy of the present system. Burk said that federal
law requires his office to refrain from interfering with the Help America
Vote Act statute including the "private registrar" system.
However, I believe that Nevada should adopt legislation and become a leader
in doing so. It should be very simple. Any person requesting Voter Registration
Forms ought, in my opinion, to be personally accountable for returning
all of the registration forms by the deadline, and the penalty for failing
to do so should be a monetary fine of $100 for each such form that is
not returned, or otherwise accounted for with a satisfactory sworn explanation
of what happened to each form that is unreturned, under penalty of perjury.
I have not examined the federal statute to see if this would conflict
with federal law, but surely we can legislate a solution to this problem.
As Judge Adams said from the bench: if there is a risk of fraud, that
risk ought to be on the County Voter Registrar rather than the innocent
voters like the Ambersons.
These "private registration forms" ought to be treated with
great respect and care, such as one would treat a stack of $100 bills!
It is not acceptable to treat
them as they are presently being treated, where the only ones that are
accounted for are the ones that are actually returned to the County Voter
Registrar, but all other forms that are NOT so returned, have no accountability
under the present rules.
One former state senator told
me that he feels that not only should there be a civil penalty, but a
heavy criminal penalty as well, for losing these Private Voter Registration
I would be happy to accompany you to meet with the Democratic Legislative
Caucus on this matter.
p.m. Attorney Pat Lundvall on behalf of Elena Brady did in fact
file a Notice of Appeal on Friday, Nov. 5. Let's see if she goes through
with it. Actually, I would like to get this issue before the Supreme Court!
of motion to reconsider, held later on election day as the closing of
the polls loomed
more about it
NEWS, NOV. 17, 2004, 4:39 p.m. PST
Nevada Election Contest Filed
on the story broken exclusively via BallotBoxing.US e-bulletin on Nov.
this page for continuing updates
NEWS, NOV. 15, 2004, 3:12 a.m. PST
Republican attorney files notice of appeal of Judge Brent Adams' decision.
Reform of the system demanded.
NEWS, NOV. 8, 2004, 5:04 a.m. PST Republican voter
suppression campaign continues past the election. Barbwire
by Barbano special Internet edition.
NEWS, NOV. 2, 2004, 4:17 p.m. PST, Reno Gazette-Journal
If you've got a registration receipt, a Washoe judge says you can vote
today even if your name is not on voting rolls. Click
here for more.
(NOV 1, 2004, 2:23 p.m. PST)A Reno couple lost their right to
vote today for the crime of wanting to register as Democrats. The Nevada
Supreme Court turned down a motion for a writ of mandamus which would
have ordered county voter registrars "to place in the voters register
and poll book the names of Petitioners (Eric and Traci Amberson) and
all Represented Petitioners who can present...documentation evidencing
their good faith completion and submission of voter registration forms."
Becker, Gibbons, Maupin and Rose stated in their order that "altough
the petition raises signficant issues," they did not feel it appropriate
to intervene. The court is "ill-equipped to resolve factual issues
such as whether petitioners are qualified electors and whether they
submitted properly complete voter registration forms. The district court
is the proper forum in which to resolve this matter in the first instance."
Justice Michael Douglas, who is up for election tomorrow, recused himself.
The case stemmed
from activities of a GOP-retained organization accused in Nevada and
other states of destroying registration forms of people who registered
NEEDED Nevada voter registrars tossing provisional ballots
resort to provisional ballots
Nevada offers option for voters whose registration is in dispute