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, March 14, 2005

This is what Sam Reed meant about King County

Having listened to Dean Logan as he spoke to the King County Council today, I now believe I know what Secretary of State Sam Reed meant when he said during his “live chat session”:

The Secretary of State's office always does require they balance the number of ballots cast with the number counted and rejected. That's very important for the integrity of the election, to avoid ballot box stuffing or ditching ballots. When we conduct audits, we look for that and have cited counties for that.

We are still looking at King County about that. We are looking at how serious the problems could be. Because the confusion in King County is the fact that they can't match these ballots with their voter registration list and those they've credited with voting, and that's a separate issue from the last question asked. That's what we require. What I don't know for sure is whether King County has done the first, but it sounds like they have, believe it or not. They've been able to balance the number of ballots cast in each precinct, and the total as well.

When Reed spoke of ballots “cast” balancing with ballots “counted and rejected,” he was simply referring to a process of figuring out whether ballots cast at the polls were all accounted for. He wasn’t talking about any process of figuring out whether the ballots cast at the polls could be shown to have been cast by qualified electors who had not voted more than once.

It was Reed's statement about the need “to avoid ballot box stuffing” that led me to wonder if he was talking about reconciling voters and ballots. If one doesn't look to see if the voters can be identified, it seems unlikely that one could tell if the ballot box had been “stuffed.” However, Reed seems to have meant “ballot box stuffing” only in the sense that ballots might be added to the box after the close of the polls with no record of those ballots having been issued when the polls were open.

It is apparent from the statements of Logan and the reconciliation documents his office released on Friday, March 11, that King County didn’t reconcile voters and ballots.

Instead, King County attempted to reconcile ballots issued to ballots cast and ballots cast to ballots counted.

It didn’t matter to them whether the ballots were cast lawfully.

The only thing that mattered to them was whether they could figure out where the ballots came from and whether they could account for all ballots cast.

They couldn’t figure out where 216 ballots came from. There was no record at all to indicate that those 216 had been issued at the polling places. For all anyone knows, those 216 ballots were forged copies of legitimate ballots that were brought into the polling places by unknown people and inserted into the machines. (Logan stated today that the AccuVote machines would accept absentee ballots, so long as the ballots had the correct precinct codes on them; thus it is possible that the 216 ballots were absentee ballots rather than forgeries. Nevertheless, they were not cast according to law, since no one can be identified as having inserted them into the machine.)

They deduced that 660 ballots were issued as provisional ballots but were unlawfully inserted into the voting machines at the polling places. This deduction wasn’t based on reports from polling place officials of such unlawful insertion of provisional ballots into the machines. Instead, it was deduced from the records showing that a certain number of provisional ballots had been issued but had disappeared – and that more ballots had been inserted into the one AccuVote machine at the polling place than there were regular ballots issued. Those extra ballots in the machines, then, apparently were the missing provisional ballots. (Logan stated today that only one machine was at each polling place, even when several precincts used the same polling place.)

They figured out that 348 ballots were issued as provisional ballots but were unlawfully inserted into the voting machines at the polling places. Those 348 ballots differ from the 660 only because the polling place officials reported during the canvassing period that they believed the ballots were unlawfully inserted into the machines.

The total in the King County reconciliation report is 1224 ballots which were unlawfully inserted into the AccuVote machines. (When Logan stated today that there was "some overlap" in the totals of 660 provisional ballots deduced to have been inserted and the 348 reported to have been inserted, he was apparently in error. The last page of his own reconciliation report (posted at Sound Politics) shows that those two totals are separate.)

That total wasn’t reported to the canvassing board. Instead, the board was told that there was a variance of 216 ballots that were included in the vote count in excess of the number of ballots issued at the polling places.

This “reconciliation” said nothing at all about the variance between the number of voters credited with voting and the number of ballots in the vote count.

Note that voters are credited with voting at the polling places by an entry in the poll books.

The post-certification process of updating the computerized voter registration records to include the last date on which the individual voted is not “voter crediting.”

If people can see through the disingenuous statements from King County elections officials, we might get closer to the truth. And I suspect the truth is that no one could say with reasonable certainty what the full, true and correct election returns in King County were.


Blogger chew_2 said...


I think there was in fact a large overlap between the 348 pvab and the 660 adjusted #'s (no label). So the number of unchecked provisional ballots may have been 660, and not 660 + 348. See, my last comments in the thread below for why.

I'm disturbed that at least 660 provisional ballots were probably deposited into the vote machines by voters, DESPITE the instructions to election workers to prevent that. Certainly some of them were cast by unqualified voters, some who might have even been partisans casting fraudulent illegal votes for Bush or Kerry.

Are you suggesting that those small errors were enough to prevent the certification of the election? Those votes are commingled with all the others. There is nothing King County could do to arrive at a more accurate count. As a percentage of the vote they were quite minor. What would have been the effect of a refusal to certify? The disenfranchisement of all the other valid votes in King County?

Or are you suggesting that such errors were sufficient to constitute grounds for an election contest? I said why I didn't think so in the thread below.

March 15, 2005 9:03 AM  
Blogger Micajah said...


I think I may have figured out how the canvassers were doing their reconciliation for the "big binder."

I'll post it later as an entry in Croker Sack. It's admittedly only a hypothesis, but it may lead the way toward understanding what they were doing.

As for the effect of the irregularly cast ballots, I believe the first thing missing is any consideration of those ballots by the canvassing board. I haven't seen anything yet which would indicate that Logan and his crew made the other two board members aware of the magnitude of the discrepancies.

Instead, if anything was said to the board, it probably was something along the lines of the "plus/minus" and "adjusted #" balancing -- showing that virtually all precincts balanced out to within one ballot.

That wasn't a true representation of the actual imbalance between ballots cast properly and ballots cast in an irregular fashion by people who couldn't be identified from the records as being qualified electors.

The canvassing board needed to consider what to do about the discrepancies before they certified that Logan's abstract was a "full, true and correct representation of the votes cast."

If the best they could do was to accept the discrepancies and still certify, the board needed to explain in writing the magnitude of the discrepancies that they were accepting. Then, whether they wanted to comply with their duty to decide whether Gregoire was "duly elected" or not, the legislature would have at least had an accurate portrayal of the situation laid before it.

Instead, the legislature was presented with a so-called certification and public statements from Logan and Huennekins in which the apparent 1800+ irregularly cast ballots were described as no actual discrepancy at all.

What system there was in existence for determining whether to declare anyone duly elected appears to have been defeated by the absence of a candid and accurate statement of the discrepancies that existed in King County.

King County's canvassing board shouldn't have certified the county's election returns unless they could be ascertained with reasonable certainty.

Logan claimed on Monday that the law requires certification by the deadline no matter what. He was wrong: The law clearly requires certification only if the returns can be ascertained with reasonable certainty.

When there were 1800+ more ballots in the count than there were qualified electors known to have cast those ballots, the returns couldn't be ascertained with reasonable certainty.

Either King County's canvassing board or the legislature should have been told of the discrepancy, and either or both of them should have admitted that no one had been duly elected.

That would have led to a vacancy in the office, since the "regularly elected" successor to Locke couldn't have qualified for office without a certificate of election from the legislature.

Brad Owen would have filled the vacancy until a governor could be elected at the "next general election" under Article III, section 10.

Instead of the certification process catching the problem, we have the contested election in the court.

We obviously have to wait to see how the court handles the discrepancy. I hope the petitioners make it clear to the judge that the certification process was defeated by the absence of a full and candid report by Logan to the other members of the canvassing board and to the legislature.

March 15, 2005 10:01 AM  

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