The All-American Bloodsport

Rough & Tumble — No Holds Barred

GOP 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.)

Reforms demanded

Monday, November 08, 2004, 11:40 PM PST


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 testified.

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 Mandamus.

(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 Forms.

I would be happy to accompany you to meet with the Democratic Legislative Caucus on this matter.


Peter Chase Neumann

UPDATE: 11-8-2004 6:40 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!

Transcript of first hearing on election day

Transcript of motion to reconsider, held later on election day as the closing of the polls loomed


Read more about it

BREAKING NEWS, NOV. 17, 2004, 4:39 p.m. PST — Nevada Election Contest Filed
Followup on the story broken exclusively via BallotBoxing.US e-bulletin on Nov. 16
Watch this page for continuing updates

BREAKING 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.

BREAKING NEWS, NOV. 8, 2004, 5:04 a.m. PST — Republican voter suppression campaign continues past the election. Barbwire by Barbano special Internet edition.

BREAKING 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.

CARSON CITY (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."

Justices Agosti, 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 as Democrats.

REFORMS NEEDED — Nevada voter registrars tossing provisional ballots
Associated Press 11-9-2004

Some resort to provisional ballots
Nevada offers option for voters whose registration is in dispute


Page designed and maintained by Deciding Factors

Click here to get on the best political e-mail list in these parts
If you were on the list, you would have had a 24-hour advance on the election contest story
broken exclusively via BallotBoxing.US e-bulletin on Nov. 16, 2004.