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)

Friday, February 11, 2005

SB 5499, section 3 -- They must be kidding!

An "election reform" bill sponsored by Senators Kastama and Berkey (the chairperson and vice-chairperson of the Senate Government Operations and Elections Committee) includes this nonsensical provision:

"NEW SECTION. Sec. 3 A new section is added to chapter 29A.08 RCW to read as follows: The county auditor shall make and preserve a copy of the county list of registered voters ten days before the primary or election. After certification of the election, the county auditor shall compare the number of votes cast at the election with the copy of the list of registered voters created under this section." [Emphasis added.]

Surely, they are just kidding.

We already have in the existing law a requirement to include in the official election returns from each county the number of registered voters and the number of votes.

This would simply tell the county election officers to "compare" those numbers -- after they have already certified their official election returns.

It is obvious that the problem in the last election which caught the most attention -- justly so -- was the inability of King County to reconcile the number of voters who participated in the election with the number of ballots on which the votes were counted.

"Voterless ballots" are an indication that the ballot boxes were stuffed or that someone managed to insert a lot of ballots into the count after the closing of the polls while the ballots were being processed at the counting centers.

This silly new section that would be added to the laws by section 3 of Senate Bill 5499 accomplishes nothing at all, much less does anything about the failure to find and report discrepancies ("voterless ballots") prior to certification of the counties' election returns.

What we need is a requirement that the county canvassing boards reconcile the numbers of voters who participated and the ballots on which votes were counted.

If those numbers don't match, then the canvassing board needs to decide what to do about the obvious question raised by the fact that they don't match. It is incorrect, if not an intentionally false statement, to certify that the reported vote totals are the true and accurate numbers of legitimate votes cast in the election when there are significant discrepancies that indicate the presence of substantial numbers of illegitimate ballots.


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