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, April 29, 2005

Did they count more ballots than they had?

Did King County tabulate the votes on more provisional ballots than they legitimately had available to count?

At page 359 of Dean Logan’s April 18-19 deposition, the transcript contains this question by the Democrats’ lawyer and answer by Logan regarding the revised provisional ballot report dated January 18, 2005:

  • Q. Does either number, the total – and, again, I am looking at Exhibit 4, the Replacement Final Report, does either number, the total provisional ballots processed, or the valid ballots include all or any part of the 348 allegedly premature provisional ballots?
  • A. No. Those ballots are not included in this report. This would be a report of the provisional ballots that were administered properly at the polling places.

So far, Dean Logan has not claimed to know how many provisional ballots were issued by King County.

In the spreadsheet summary of the pre-certification polling place ballot reconciliation efforts that Logan released on March 11, the number of provisional ballots issued by King County is 31,765. The summary contains errors, so this total cannot be treated as accurate.

Using that total as an approximate number of provisional ballots issued at polling places on November 2, 2004, it appears that they counted the votes on 780 to 1,103 more provisional ballots than they could have legitimately had in their possession.

The county’s false provisional ballot report of November 17, 2004, stated that 1,236 provisional ballots were forwarded to King County by the auditors of other counties. The revised January 18, 2005, report didn’t state how many ballots were received from other counties. (Logan testified that the part of the database from which the report was drawn didn’t identify which ballots came from other counties.)

Since the November 17 provisional ballot report was false in many respects, this 1,236 can only be treated as an approximation of the number of provisional ballots cast in other counties and sent to King County for possible validation and counting.

The county’s false November provisional ballot report also stated that 877 provisional ballots issued and cast in King County were forwarded to other counties, while the revised January 18, 2005, report stated that 554 were forwarded from King County to other counties.

As is usually the case with King County data, the number of provisional ballots forwarded to other counties must be treated as an approximation. In this case, there are essentially two different approximations.

The January report stated that 32,996 provisional ballots were “processed.” As Logan testified, this total is the number of ballots which were “properly” cast, in the sense that they were supposedly sealed in signed envelopes at the polling places for later validation rather than unlawfully inserted into the Accuvote machines and tabulated without verification of the voters’ eligibility to vote.

According to The Seattle Times, at least 785 provisional ballots were issued at King County polling places and unlawfully inserted into the ballot boxes via the Accuvote machines.

Using these approximate numbers, simple arithmetic indicates that King County counted the votes on more provisional ballots than they legitimately had available for tabulation.

31,765 issued
+1,236 received from other counties
33,001 available (close to the 32,996 “processed”)
- 554 sent to other counties (or 877 in the 11/17 report)
32,447 still available
- 785 put into Accuvote machines
31,662 still available
-4,432 invalid ballots (1/18/05 report)
27,230 available to be counted

28,010 reported valid and counted (1/18/05 report)
-27,230 available to be counted
.......780 more were counted than were available to be counted

If there really were 877 sent to other counties, then only 26,907 were available to be counted; yet they counted 1,103 more than that.

It sure would be nice to have more accurate totals for provisional ballots issued, received from other counties, and forwarded to other counties.

The apparent difference between the approximate number of ballots legitimately available for tabulation and the number reportedly tabulated is large enough that it may be the result of counting some ballots more than once or counting ballots that weren’t legitimately in the counting process – rather than being the result of inaccurate data.

Of course, knowing how many ballots you legitimately have is the only way to know if you have counted them all, and counted them only once each. (Logan denies that knowing the total number of ballots, much less reconciling that number with the total number of legitimate voters, is a part of properly conducting an election.)

The number of provisional ballots issued could be determined with reasonable certainty from the poll books.

The number received from other counties could be determined from copies of the correspondence that transmitted those ballots to King County.

The toughest number to obtain would be the total for ballots forwarded to other counties by King County. It is unlikely that King County can document that number with any certainty. Asking 38 other counties for their documentation of ballots received from King County may be the only way to figure it out.


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