A lesson to all government agencies who ignore public records requests
In December 2004, Washington blogger Stefan Sharkansky made a public records request to determine how many people in King County voted in the governor’s election a month earlier.
King County officials waited until January 2007 to satisfy his request.
Last week, King County agreed to pay him $225,000 in a settlement over the public records violation.
Their refusal to hand over the records in a timely manner may have affected the outcome of the election, Sharanksy said on his blog, Sound Politics.
The documents that they eventually provided to me revealed that county election officials unlawfully counted hundreds of ineligible ballots in the 2004 election: a multiple of Christine Gregoire’s 133-vote “margin of victory” over Dino Rossi in the contested gubernatorial race. Documentation of these illegal votes was withheld from discovery in the election contest trial and not released to me until months after the trial. Consequently, the trial was conducted in ignorance of these potentially outcome-changing illegal votes.
Additional documents that were released last month in discovery for my case confirmed that county officials both knew more about the illegal vote counting than they had previously acknowledged, and also knowingly withheld responsive documents from me during 2005 and 2006.