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 15, 2005

How many provisional ballots were counted in King County?

Has anyone been able to reconcile the election records of King County regarding provisional ballots? King County’s elections office hasn’t.

Yesterday, Stefan Sharkansky posted at Sound Politics the spreadsheet prepared and released by King County to show what their internal records reflect about the numbers of ballots received, accepted as valid and included in the vote tabulation.

For provisional ballots, the numbers appear to be wildly different from those reported by King County in the days prior to certifying their election returns on November 17, 2004.

Of course, their January 18, 2005 revision of their November 17, 2004 provisional ballot report had already revealed quite a difference. Instead of reporting a total of 27,641 valid provisional ballots included in the vote tabulation, they reported long afterwards that 28,010 had been included in the vote count.

Not only were there 369 additional ballots in the revised report, there were 108 fewer ballots rejected because of signatures that didn’t match those on file. It appears that nothing on the reports provided to the canvassing board prior to certification of the returns after the initial vote count and the two recounts was accurate.

Now, the spreadsheet released by King County indicates that their records show that the votes on only 25,764 provisional ballots were tabulated. Not 28,010. Not 27,641. Only 25,764. (Update Nov. 16: It looks as though the 226 provisional ballots sent for duplication or enhancement were included on another page of the spreadsheet, so those 226 weren't counted among the 25,574 "total tabulated" on the sheet that supposedly shows the total of all provisional ballots. If this is correct, then 25,990 provisional ballots were included in the vote tabulation, not 25,764.)

Adding insult to injury, that 25,764 (or 25,990) exceeded the number accepted as valid ballots. According to their spreadsheet, King County's internal records show that only 25,597 provisional ballots were found to have been cast by registered voters.

A comparison of the ballot counts reported to the public during the last week before their returns were certified reveals huge differences between what they told the public and what their internal records apparently state.

Here are the numbers for provisional ballots reportedly included in the vote tabulation and the numbers of provisional ballots actually sent through the vote tabulation machines in that last week.

Date............Public report.......Internal records
Nov. 10..........1,978..................1,357
Nov. 12........10,704.................11,213
Nov. 15........12,317..................10,308
Nov. 16.........2,229...................1,647
Nov. 17.......No report................1,239

On Nov. 17, the public report stated the combined total of both provisional and absentee ballots purportedly included in the vote tabulation, namely 1,446. The number of provisional ballots wasn’t stated separately as had been done since Nov. 10.

Internal records, according to the spreadsheet, show that there were 563 absentee ballots and 1,239 provisional ballots added to the count on Nov. 17, which is a total of 1,802 – not 1,446.

The number of ballots sent through the vote tabulation machine on Nov. 17 exceeded the number reported to the public by 356. Some of that excess was made up of provisional ballots, but how much?

Dean Logan, the man who is supposedly in charge of administering elections in King County, finally admitted that he doesn’t know how many provisional ballots were issued. If asked under oath, he almost surely must also admit he doesn’t know how many were valid or how many were included in the vote tabulation.

Gregoire’s purported margin of victory is 129, plus or minus some much larger number – almost surely minus, not plus.


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