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)

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Ron Sims' task force gets underway

As the beginning of the election contest trial nears, the task force appointed by King County executive Ron Sims has begun its effort to examine the mess that was made of the general election by Logan’s gang.

The group is headed by Cheryl Scott, who proposes to search for “root causes” according to The Seattle Times:

Cheryl Scott, chairwoman of Sims' Independent Task Force, said her panel will hunt for "root causes" of election problems, then make recommendations to restore public trust and turn King County into a national model for efficient elections. Scott is a former CEO of Group Health Cooperative.

According to today's edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, a staff member named Brian Malarky (no relation to Morton Brilliant, I suppose) hopes to find the “big picture”:

The task force, which includes prominent representatives of academia and the law as well as elections officials, will look at the "big picture," staff member Brian Malarky said at the group's first meeting yesterday at Seattle University.

If Sims’ task force intends to find the “big picture” and identify “root causes,” they need to see if they can agree on this policy: Our elections ought to be decided by the legitimate votes of eligible voters, not by simply counting the votes on every ballot someone manages to insert into the vote tabulation process.

If they think some other policy ought to be implemented in conducting elections, they should let us know at the outset – so we can avoid wasting time paying any attention to them and their eventual report.

As for “root causes,” they need to begin at the top and work their way down to the bottom rung of the elections division. Start with Dean Logan, who stated in his deposition that the false ballot reconciliation reports presented to the canvassing board aren’t part of conducting an election. Move on to Bill Huennekens, who stated in his deposition that he didn’t know what was meant by the phrase, validity of each vote, when he was asked if the canvassing process is essential to ensure the validity of each vote and to protect the integrity of our elections process.

Then ask Linda Sanchez who it was that decided to hide the fact of 900+ ballots inserted into the ballot boxes in excess of the number of regular ballots cast by eligible voters at polling places. She, Logan and Huennekens were aware of the substantial discrepancy, and someone – or all three of them – decided to conceal the problem from the canvassing board.

And don’t forget to ask why King County failed to keep track of the total numbers of regular polling place ballots, provisional ballots and absentee ballots that they received from voters. Their records, such as they are, show that they counted hundreds more ballots in each category than had been cast by eligible voters. If they had desired to ensure that they counted only legitimate votes, counted them all, and counted them only once, they needed to know how many were available to be counted – but they have not yet claimed to know that most basic information.

That ought to get the task force started. Perhaps they will see the “big picture” (a desperate effort to include every ballot, legitimate or illegitimate, in the vote tabulation in order to erase Rossi’s slim lead) and the “root causes” (incompetence magnified by a desire to achieve a certain outcome).


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