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 07, 2005

Two more pieces to the puzzle in King County

Perhaps there are two other pieces to the puzzle discussed earlier regarding the initial certification of King County’s election returns on November 17 – the actual number of regular absentee ballots that were found to be valid and the number of Federal Write-in Absentee Ballots (“FWABs”) that were valid.

At Sound Politics, Stefan Sharkansky has posted a digital image of a “Mail Ballot Report” he obtained from King County. It purportedly is a copy of a report submitted to the canvassing board on November 17 as part of their final documentation prior to certifying their returns.

In this report, the number of absentee ballots that were accepted as valid is stated to have been 564,222.

Since this report appears to track pretty well with the “audit trail” requirements for absentee ballots stated in WAC 434-240-270, this total of 564,222 ought to be the number of absentee ballots which had been issued by King County and then returned by eligible voters in time to be counted.

This “Mail Ballot Report” wouldn’t have included the FWABs received by King County, since those ballots aren’t issued by the county elections office. (They are used by registered overseas voters who request absentee ballots but don’t receive their requested absentee ballots in time to vote with them.)

Suppose that the 1,081 FWABs King County found to be valid are added to the 564,222 regular absentee ballots noted in that “Mail Ballot Report.”

Then, the total number of ballots in the initial canvassing and certification of King County’s election returns would be:

564,222 regular absentee ballots,
1,081 FWABs,
305,380 ballots cast at polling places, and
27,641 provisional ballots for a total of
898,324 ballots accepted as valid and counted

That’s only 86 more ballots than the total of 898,238 King County reported.

I wonder if there is any explanation for that 86-ballot difference in their initial election returns.

The difference is a lot less than the 1,074 ballot “shortage” that I came up with before, but it’s still not a perfect reconciliation.


Blogger chew_2 said...


Why are you spending so much time on these numerical discrepancies?

Do you think they are evidence that can be used in the election contest?

Or is this just trying to understand the (flawed) system and in pursuit of good govenment and better processing of elections in the future?

March 09, 2005 11:18 AM  
Blogger Micajah said...

I just got curious about the supposedly true, accurate and complete report of King County's election returns.

The ballots processed prior to the initial November 17 certification ought to be the total available -- absent some explained discovery of overlooked ballots like the one in Snohomish County, I believe it was, where ballots were ready for vote counting but got covered up by empty mail trays. (Of course, now I see after this exercise with King County's returns that even in Snohomish County that tray of ballots ought to have been recognized as "lost" before their initial certification, since they couldn't have explained what they did with all the absentee ballots they had received.)

It will probably come to nothing, but it does give me a way to learn a little more about the processing of the ballots and the required steps to account for them and maintain an "audit trail" from the first day they are received by the elections office.

Oddly, the initial certification of King County's returns doesn't seem to add up. Remember when Reed said it appeared that King County had reconciled their numbers for ballots cast and ballots counted? I still wonder what he meant, and whether there is any indication that the numbers reported by King County add up.

So far, they don't.

March 09, 2005 2:51 PM  

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