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)

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Who's minding the books in King County?

Now that I’ve thought about the reconciliation process required by the regulations issued by the Secretary of State on August 24, 2004, one thing that comes to mind is a statement made by Dean Logan, the director of the records, elections and licensing department of King County on January 5th:

The process of crediting voters for voting is not designed to determine if voter fraud occurred, but rather a process to ensure voter registration lists are updated and current, to assist in administering and managing elections (i.e.; merging voter registration update information, updating absentee ballot requests, etc.), and to be available for use by political organizations for tracking voter participation.
That is probably an accurate statement of Logan’s beliefs, but it leaves some questions unanswered.

By what procedure did King County process incoming ballots and ensure that only one ballot from each eligible voter was accepted and sent on to have the votes on it counted?

Since King County couldn’t explain the source of more than 1800 ballots, it seems Logan ought to offer some explanation of the procedure employed to prevent fraud – whether that fraud was done by people acting individually or in concert.

The ballot processing has to avoid making it easy for people to vote more than once, and it must verify that each ballot was cast by someone eligible to vote.

Not knowing what procedure King County used, since Logan has not apparently volunteered that information to the public, I’m left to imagine what they needed to do.

The poll books had to include all the voters who had registered in time to vote in person at the precinct polling places on election day – and they had to indicate which people had been issued absentee ballots. So, how current were the records in the poll books used at each precinct polling place?

A current record of all the voters who were issued absentee ballots had to be maintained. Did King County have a database that was updated each time an absentee ballot was issued?

Anyone who was issued an absentee ballot prior to election day needed to be recognizable by the precinct poll workers through a notation in the poll books provided to them. Then, when a person appeared and asked for a regular ballot at the polls, the poll worker would know better than to issue one. (Anyone who claims not to have received or voted the absentee ballot is to be issued a provisional ballot at the polling place, rather than simply turned away.)

After the polls close, the procedure also must prevent voting more than once via mailed-in absentee ballots, so it ought to include updating -- as soon as practicable -- the list of voters who have voted at the polls.

As each precinct’s ballots are processed, there needs to be an examination of the poll books to ensure that the number of ballots issued can be reconciled with the number of ballots cast.

The only way to know how many ballots were properly issued is to count the signatures in the poll book.

If that counting is done with a barcode-reading device, then the computer database could be updated at the same time the election workers are processing the precinct’s ballots in preparation for counting the votes on them.

Once the processing prior to counting the ballots is done, it ought to be possible to produce a list of voters who voted by using a straightforward database query.

Instead, it appears that King County never checked to see if the signatures in those poll books matched the number of ballots cast and counted. I'm sure their poll workers were expected to count the signatures, but no one double-checked that count as a routine step in the procedure.

They claim their problem is simply human error, but have they gone back to double-check those poll books to see if the 1800+ “voterless ballots” can be explained as ballots cast at the precinct polling places by people who did not sign the poll book? It ought to be possible to identify the precincts from which they apparently came.

If those "voterless ballots" weren't cast by people who were issued ballots without being required to sign, then who stuffed them into the ballot boxes?

Why did King County's procedure fail to bring the problem to light before the end of December?

Maybe Logan doesn't think updating the list of voters who voted is part of the process needed to detect and prevent voting fraud, but it seems pretty clear that it is an indispensable element in that process. It's the only thing that produced a measure of what appears to be massive voting fraud in King County.


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