About the only fact firmly established during the Thursday afternoon, Aug. 27, voter registration challenge against Thurston County Commissioner District 1 candidate C Davis is that he does not live at 1211 4th Ave. E.
The hearing, presided over by Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall, came to pass after Socialist Party member Andrew Saturn — who ran in 2018 for Public Utilities District 1 commissioner — filed a voter registration challenge form with Hall on Aug. 20 alleging that Davis does not reside at the address under which he is registered to vote.
Hall offered Davis and Saturn 15 minutes each to state their cases, and then gave Saturn an extra 10 minutes toward the end of the hearing to close his arguments.
Saturn has contended in his voter registration challenge that the address on 4th Ave. East is an office building with 10 offices, two conference rooms, a kitchen and two bathrooms — but no residential living space. The current occupants, he added, are entirely business related.
“There is no way ‘C Davis’ lives at this address,” Saturn wrote in a narrative accompanying his challenge form.
In Thursday’s hearing, Davis — standing in front of an American flag hanging on the wall behind him in the Zoom video — totally agreed.
“I do not live at 1211 4th Ave. E., nor have I ever stated I lived at 1211 4th Ave. E.,” he said.
He noted that the 4th Avenue location was offered to him as a “non-traditional” alternative address by the Auditor’s Office in 2018 after Davis complained that his ballots were not being delivered to his longtime mail box in west Olympia.
“I did not create that 4th Avenue address,” Davis said. “It was created by the Auditor’s Department.”
In his hearing testimony, Saturn contended that Davis actually lives on the second floor of a house at 1263 Bigelow Ave. N.E.
“It’s not the goal of my challenge to change the results of the election,” Saturn said. “My goal is simply to prove that voter fraud is being committed. C Davis owns a house at 1263 Bigelow St. N.E., but he refused to receive mail there because he didn’t want to leave a paper trail. He is taking advantage of the system and wants to conceal that he lives there.”
A voter-challenge letter provided to Davis on Aug. 21 by Thurston County Elections Manager Tillie Naputi-Pullar explained that Davis could provide evidence that he lived at the address where he was registered to vote, update his residential address, or prove that he met a lawful exception to maintain his residency.
The exceptions include: absent while in government service; attending school; confined in public prison; or that he lived at a non-traditional residential address. These non-traditional addresses include shelters, parks, motor homes, marinas or other “identifiable locations that you consider to be your residence.”
Davis took the “exceptions” route.
“I have a non-traditional address, and I can stay in my rental unit or I can stay with friends if I choose to,” Davis said. “My residence varies depending on the time.”
Explaining that voter registration law requires a person to be registered where he or she lives, Hall repeatedly asked Davis specifically where he lived, but received no definitive answers until after approximately her fifth try. Davis eventually answered that his non-traditional address is at the cross streets of Puget Street and 4th Avenue.
Saturn was having none of it.
In closing remarks he said: “C Davis is lying about where he lives depending on when you ask him, and is committing voter fraud.”
In an intriguing twist to the hearing, Hall called for testimony from a witness for Saturn: private investigator Arthur Mills, owner of the Lacey-based investigations company Cicero Intel. Saturn said he did not hire Mills, but that the investigator reached out to him prior to the hearing offering to share information he’d gathered for another client.
Mills — who had been on the case for just several days, he said — noted that his research to date revealed that C Davis has 24 aliases and impostor identifications. Webster’s Dictionary defines “imposter” as “a person who deceives or cheats others by pretending to be someone or something that he or she is not.” “Alias,” by contrast, is defined as simply “an assumed name.”
“Where he lives depends on who is C Davis,” Mills said. “It is extremely convoluted, and it’s just telling me that there is fraud or something that he is hiding.”
Davis, who on several occasions during his time to speak called Saturn “Mr. Pluto,” told Hall at one point as she tried to establish Davis’s correct address: “You are implying that some people are entitled to a non-traditional address and others are not.”
And at another point toward the end of the hearing after Saturn had commented on Davis committing voter fraud, yelled, “that’s a bold-faced lie!”
To which Hall responded: “Would somebody please mute him.”
Saturn said the hearing went about as he expected it would.
“C Davis is very clearly committing voter fraud by abusing a system designed to protect the voting rights of houseless individuals,” he wrote in an email after the hearing. “Voter fraud is very rare, but this is a very clear and very serious case, and I hope Auditor Hall has the evidence she needs.”
In an email he sent on Friday, Davis dismissed the legitimacy of the hearing.
“With regards to the auditor’s hearing, it was highly biased,” he wrote. “Mary Hall gave Andrew Saturn an extra 10 minutes. Hall has already made it clear that she sides with Mejia in another action not related to me.”
Hall, who seemed slightly exasperated by the end of the hearing, said she would review the voter registration challenge, render a decision within 14 days, and mail the results to Davis and Saturn.
Davis, a Republican, who ran in 2018 for Legislative District 22 Rep. Position 1, finished second behind Carolina Mejia in the recently certified primary election for Thurston County Commissioner District No. 1 and will move on to the general election on Nov. 3.
Davis is primarily running his campaign on three themes:
1.) Repairing the existing county courthouse rather than building a new facility;
2.) Streamlining building permits, prioritizing property rights, and removing excessive regulations (and delisting the pocket gopher as endangered) and,
3.) Eliminating homeless camps by sending camp residents to jobs, labor-based drug treatment or into the legal system — and funding more sheriff’s deputies and corrections officers.
His reaction last week to Saturn’s allegations concerning his official residence was swift and unambiguous:
“Democratic operative Andrew Saturn has made a RACIST attempt to challenge the validity of my voter registration,” Davis wrote in an email. “I have been a Thurston County resident for 27 years and have been registered to vote for that time period. This sort of vile racism is not to be tolerated.”
Davis called on Mejia, Heck, Dolan and the Democratic Party to denounce Saturn’s action.
Hall noted by phone on Monday, Aug. 24, that she couldn’t take any direct action herself, even if she finds that Davis lives outside the district for which he is running for commissioner.
“It would be up to the courts to remove him from the ballot, and it would just be Carolina moving forward if that happened,” Hall said. “Someone would need to challenge that (voter registration residence requirement) in court.”