Did you see the headline in the CdA Press last week, stating that Canadian voters might determine the outcome of our last city election? That could very well be true. Let me try to explain:
In 1988, President Reagan signed the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). This is a federal law ensuring voting rights for overseas US citizens. The people covered under this law are:
• Members of the military
• Members of the Merchant Marines
• Eligible family of the above
• Federal employees residing outside the country
• Other private citizens residing outside the country
The idea behind this law was to help the military and those who must live outside the country, maintain their ability to vote in federal elections.
The problem is that the Idaho legislature adopted UOCAVA and it is now, rightly or wrongly, being applied to state and local elections as well.
So it looks like anyone choosing to live outside the US can vote in our city elections if they ever lived in Coeur d’Alene!
The stories of the 5 Canadian voters are disturbing. Yes, they are all US citizens who they been living abroad for many years. Certainly they should be able to vote for President and in other federal matters, but they should not, in my humble opinion, be able to influence our local governance.
These people to not participate in our community.
The absurdity becomes even more outrageous when I think of people I know who have businesses here in CdA, pay huge taxes here and are directly impacted by the decisions of the mayor and city council. But, if they choose to live in Fernan, Hayden or Post Falls, they can’t vote here. Yet the Canadians can!
Please tell me how this makes any sense?
Last week, in the Election Trial, this issue became critical. After much open deliberation, Judge Hosack ruled that a woman who has lived in Canada for 22 years, who declared in court (via the internet—a first for Idaho!) that her home in Canada is her “permanent residence”, can be considered a legal voter in our city election.
Idaho state election law says this:
34-107. "Residence" defined. (1)"Residence," for voting purposes, shall be the principal or primary home or place of abode of a person. Principal or primary home or place of abode is that home or place in which his habitation is fixed and to which a person, whenever he is absent, has the present intention of returning after a departure or absence therefrom, regardless of the duration of absence. "
The city version of this law, 50-402, adds these qualifications on top:
"In determining what is a principal or primary place of abode of a person the following circumstances relating to such person may be taken into account: business pursuits, employment, income sources, residence for income or other tax pursuits, residence of parents, spouse, and children, if any, leaseholds, situs of personal and real property, and motor vehicle registration."
The woman from Canada has a house, car, driver’s license, they pay taxes, etc. all in Canada. (To her defense, she only wants to retain her right to vote for President. She did not ask for an absentee ballot for our city election, it was automatically sent to her by the Kootenai Elections Dept. because she voted in last year’s Presidential election.)
The other 4 Canadian voters have similarly upsetting stories.
Our voting rights are being taken away. Remember, every invalid vote cancels out the vote of someone legitimate.
Voting laws all across our country are being changed to loosen requirements and decrease necessary documentation. Yes, we will have to show a photo ID now in Idaho, which is great, but that’s only if you vote in-person and, even so, if you don’t have an ID you are allowed to simply sign a paper affidavit. Many states, like Washington, have gone to all-mail-in ballots, the verification of which are difficult if not impossible and open many loopholes for abuse.
Even scarier, there are efforts underway in Washington DC to nationalize the vote; to put the federal government charge of all rules for elections, at every level. Some want to make voter registration automatic for everyone who gets a driver’s license, social security, food stamps, welfare, job service, etc. Besides the big problem of taking away a person’s choice and privacy, this idea is terrible because many people applying for these services are not US citizens. Should we automatically give them the right to vote as well?
It’s time for Idaho to stand up for states’ rights and fix our voting system. Our legislators must clarify our election laws and protect the voters of Idaho, not Canada!
Big kudos go to Jim Brannon, his attorney Starr Kelso, and everyone else who worked on the Election Challege. It has been a long 10 months and now, after last week’s 5 ½ day trial, the judge will take time to make his decision.
If you would like to read about the trial, please go to www.opencda.com
and read my daily reviews. It was an interesting week. Here are some excerpts from my updates:
Trial Day 2: The second day of the Election Challenge trial was surprising. I was amazed at how much the Chief Elections Officer of our county does NOT know! But first, let me set the stage for you: The trial is being held in Courtroom # 9 on the first floor of the newer County courthouse building.. As you enter the big double doors, the left hand side of the room has a narrow section of pews. This is where the City and County officials and supporters seem to congregate. It’s kind of odd to see them all squished in there, way too close to each other. And there are a LOT of them there, for two whole days now: Mayor Bloem, Mike Kennedy…(read more at www.opencda.com)
Trial Day 3: I am not kidding, this was a BIG day!... Deedie Beard was the main person during the election; the Head Honcho, because we’ve all realized Dan English did nothing and knew less. Deedie retired from her job as of November 30, 2009, about a month after the election. Sometime in the spring, they “cleared” her computer, even though there was an active lawsuit in process and the County legal team thought the County would be brought back as a main player in the litigation… But the new witness after lunch was a game changer, in my view. It was Tim Hurst from the Secretary of State’s office. Tim is in charge of all election issues in the state. There were FOUR big breakthroughs during Tim’s testimony. Tim verified that State law requires the Clerk to maintain a Record of Absentee Ballots for each election… The FINAL but probably most important point made by Mr. Hurst was when Starr Kelso asked him if the Clerk’s failure to keep and maintain the Absentee Ballot Record, as required by law, would be considered a “failure of duty”. YES, Mr. Hurst responded. After that shocker, the tone in the courtroom seemed to change. There were fewer snide remarks from Kennedy’s attorneys, and Mike Hayman, the City’s hired attorney, actually sat up straight and started paying attention… (read more at www.opencda.com)
Trial Day 4: Today I was embarrassed to be a citizen of the city where Mike Gridley is Head Attorney. He acted like a juvenile delinquent when he was called as a witness. And you won’t believe what he said…Grildey was sitting in the witness chair and Starr Kelso handed him some papers, then turned away for a second. While Starr’s attention was elsewhere, Gridley picked up the papers and purposefully dropped them on the floor. When Starr turned back, Gridley told him the papers “fell”, so Kelso bent down next to the witness chair to pick them up. As Starr stood up, Mike Gridley said, under his breath, “If you have any more papers you can shove them up your a**!” Mr. Kelso turned to the judge and told him, within full hearing of the audience, what Gridley had just said. Gridley whined, “No I didn’t”, to which Starr said, “That’s a lie!”
(I was in the court room but didn't have a good view from that angle and I wasn't close enough to hear the comment, but I have verification from two people, in addition to Starr,
who heard it clearly. And I have two additional eye-witnesses who saw the intentional paper drop.) The judge told them both to stop the bickering and continue on with the questions. I wish he had admonished Mike Gridley for behavior unbecoming to any attorney in a courtroom, let alone the Head Legal Counsel for the City of CdA. We pay this man more than $120,000! The Mayor and City Council should insist that Mr. Gridley tender his resignation. (read more at www.opencda.com)
Trial Day 5: There have been several witnesses in this trial that all the lawyers have agreed are unqualified (illegal) voters. What’s amazing is how these voters “can’t remember” who they voted for. Today, the private investigator who talked with two of those voters, took the witness stand to explain that he tape recorded two phone conversations with the couple. They were a bit hesitant and unsure at first, but then the husband said he voted for “the incumbent” and his wife said she voted for Kennedy because she remembered she saw a newspaper article after the election that told how close the race was, and she said she felt good because she voted for the guy who won.
But on the witness stand, in court yesterday these two, Prior and Harris were adamant they “could not remember”. Same with Rahana Zellers, who moved to a County address a month before the election. She went to her split precinct (partly in the city and part in the county) and they gave her the wrong ballot. She voted the wrong ballot but now she’s
“not sure” how she voted. She “probably” voted for Kennedy, she said. (read more at www.opencda.com)
Trial Day 6: Closing Arguments: There’s absolutely no way of guessing what the verdict will be. It was not a slam dunk for either side and the judge gave nods and indicators to both teams, in one way or another…. Mr. Kelso also reminded the court of the 53 voters who went to the polls in split precincts (part in city, part in county) but the type of ballot they were given was not recorded in the poll book as required. There were two witnesses who testified they were given the wrong ballots in their precinct, so the 53 others is significant. Starr’s main point seemed to be that with all confusing numbers, and with all the unqualified or questionable voters, and all the errors and omissions by the election workers, the best thing the court could do is order a new election for Seat #2. Starr quoted legal precedent that said, essentially, that where the court has the power to order a new election it is the safest action to ensure the best interest of the voters. This remedy, Starr said, would make sure that no voters are disenfranchised; it would leave the outcome up to the voters.
Kennedy's attorney, Peter Erbland, said that his team does not think that Mr. Brannon was wrong to bring the Election Challenge; that it is good and important to verify the election process. He then started into the whole issue of the illegal voters, ticking off one and then the next, saying there are not enough of them to change the tide. He then went on to the other section of the law that deals with errors. Erbland got into the numbers and all the confusing ways of coming up with 2051 as the total of absentee ballots counted. But he NEVER offered proof or evidence to show WHERE the 2051 voters came from. There are NO reports that show 2051 valid voters. (read more at www.opencda.com)
And now we wait. Have a great weekend! –Mary