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)

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

What does it mean to certify the returns?

Dean Logan’s deposition makes plain, if it wasn’t already obvious, that Logan doesn’t understand (or won’t admit to understanding) the legal duty of the canvassing board and of Logan as chief elections officer for King County.

The law requires Logan or his designee to take an oath before the board begins to canvass the returns, “attesting to the authenticity of the information presented to the canvassing board.” The oath must be in writing, and a copy must be part of the official canvass report.

After that oath is administered, “[t]he county canvassing board shall proceed to verify the results from the precincts and the absentee ballots.”

“Verify” means to determine the true results of the election.

Logan’s principal task as the equivalent of a county auditor is to “produce cumulative and precinct returns for each primary and election and deliver them to the canvassing board for verification and certification.”

Based on the information provided by Logan, the canvassing board must first determine whether the cumulative and precinct returns are true, and then “execute a certificate of the results of the primary or election signed by all members of the board or their designees.”

The wording of the certificate required by law plainly states the conclusion of the board, assuming they have verified the accuracy of the returns presented by Logan:
Upon completion of the verification of the auditor's abstract of votes and the documentation of any corrective action taken, the county canvassing board shall sign a certification that the abstract is a full, true, and correct representation of the votes cast for the issues and offices listed thereon.

On page 98 of the deposition transcript, Logan was asked: “What does it mean to certify the returns?”

In an answer that rambled on about various tasks involved in canvassing the returns, Logan finally stated this as the meaning of certifying the returns:

...and then the three of us sign a certificate, a certification that is essentially making public the record of vote totals for King County....

That’s it—just make the vote totals public. Never mind the fact that the vote totals were already a matter of public record as soon as the votes on each group of ballots were tabulated. Just note that Logan said absolutely nothing about determining whether the vote totals on his reports were a “full, true, and correct representation of the votes cast.”

He doesn’t think the board has a legal duty to determine whether the returns are true before certifying that they are true. That’s why it didn’t bother him when the so-called certificate didn’t say the abstract of votes was “a full, true, and correct representation of the votes cast.” He didn’t think that was his job or the duty of the board.


Blogger Splatter said...

You nailed it. Another excellent post.

That's why your blog moved up to second in my bookmarks, just below SP.

Great work is appreciated.

April 27, 2005 9:15 PM  
Blogger Micajah said...

Thanks for the compliment -- and for reading my blog.

I enjoyed reading the comments you posted at Sound Politics as you read through Logan's deposition.

April 29, 2005 2:02 PM  

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