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, February 08, 2005

Matching one voter to one ballot on election day

Much talk back and forth has occurred regarding the need to count the signatures and the ballots at the polling places after the polls are closed.

It's an old, common sense idea -- a way to find out at the earliest possible time whether there is a discrepancy which may cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election.

Washington law requires that this be done -- and requires the polling place officers to note any discrepancy between the number of signatures in the poll book and the number of ballots in the ballot box.

Unless this law was utterly ignored (despite the repetition of much the same thing in the SecState's August 2004 emergency rules), there ought to be a written record of any discrepancies for each polling place.

I wonder what the records from King County show. Did they obey this law? Were any discrepancies noted and recorded when this reconciliation of the numbers of participating voters and ballots in the ballot box was done?

If there were no discrepancies, then it might be interesting to see what happens when a person with an adding machine simply totals the numbers on those polling place records. Perhaps we would find out whether the number of ballots on which King County counted the votes was the same as the number of ballots and signatures on those reconciliation records.

Using those same poll books, King County cannot account for the presence of more than 1800 ballots which they included in their tallying of the votes.

What did those poll books show on the evening of election day, after the polls closed?

Do all the copies of the lists of participating voters which the precinct inspectors were required to retain agree with the poll books?

Here are the statutes:

RCW 29A.44.231 Record of participation.
As each voter casts his or her vote, the precinct election officers shall insert in the poll books or precinct list of registered voters opposite that voter's name, a notation to credit the voter with having participated in that primary or election. No record may be made of a voter's party affiliation in a partisan primary. The precinct election officers shall record the voter's name so that a separate record is kept. [Emphasis added.]
[2004 c 271 § 138.]
No link between voter and ballot choice: RCW 29A.08.161.

RCW 29A.44.280 Duties of election officers after unused ballots secure.
Immediately after the unused ballots are secure, the precinct election officers shall count the number of voted ballots and make a record of any discrepancy between this number and the number of voters who signed the poll book for that precinct or polling place, complete the certifications in the poll book, prepare the ballots for transfer to the counting center if necessary, and seal the voting devices.
[2003 c 111 § 1127; 1990 c 59 § 53. Formerly RCW 29.54.015.]
Intent -- Effective date -- 1990 c 59: See notes following RCW 29A.04.013.


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