Croker Sack

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." — Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

Monday, December 13, 2004

You go first

The state of Washington needs to amend its election laws, so everyone outside King County can have faith in the outcome of elections.

The laws should be amended to require three things:
  • King County must count their ballots in every statewide election three times before certifying the result – by machine twice, then by hand.
  • King County must then stop counting until hell freezes over.
  • All other counties must await the certification of King County’s results before beginning their ballot counting.

Then, at least King County would have to guess how many votes for their preferred candidates they need to find.

As things now stand, King County has a pretty good idea how many votes they need to find, because virtually all other counties finish counting and certify their results before King County does so.

Events which otherwise might be perceived as innocent mistakes don’t look so innocent under the current procedure.

  • King County surprised everyone by underestimating the number of votes left to be counted almost two weeks after the election. (Apparently, the Postal Service transported those ballots to the King County elections office by donkey over long distances, since they wouldn’t have been valid unless postmarked on or before election day.) What had appeared to be a Rossi victory turned into a slight edge for Gregoire on November 15 with those additional 10,000 King County votes. That slight edge disappeared by November 17, when Rossi appeared to win by 261 votes.
  • Today, King County discovered that 561 ballots had been ruled invalid even though no actual attempt had been made to see whether the signatures on the ballot envelopes matched voters’ signatures on file. Since their signatures weren’t in the digitized database, election workers were either too ignorant to know of the paper file copies that should be retrieved to examine the signatures, or too lazy to bother checking. Of course, King County now wants to include those votes in their “final” tally – assuming the voter registration signatures can be found and do match the signatures on the envelopes.

In the future, we should simply tell King County: “You go first.” Then we can maintain that perception of innocence when they make their inevitable mistakes.

“Hat tip” Sound Politics (see "update")

Update: Hindrocket at Power Line cannot maintain the perception of innocence after reading a news report of King County's latest ballot "find." The urge to suspect the worst has spread beyond our state's borders.


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