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)

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Sam Reed answers plainly

Secretary of State Sam Reed apparently understands the role of county canvassing boards regarding the certification of a county’s election results.

Excerpts of the deposition of Secretary of State Sam Reed have been posted on the SecState web site as part of a document filed by the petitioners.

At page 141, the question and answer present the crux of the matter regarding the concealment of discrepancies by Logan’s gang in King County:

Q. So when you receive certified returns from counties, you are relying on the county canvassing boards investigating and identifying any problems and resolving them to the extent they can prior to certifying the returns for their county?

A. That is correct. It is the role of the canvassing board to – if there are any problems, to work to resolve those before they certify the election.

The question and answer which immediately follow are the sort of thing the news media and many partisans love to quote, but they aren’t as important as the clear statement of the canvassing board’s role.

Q. Do you know whether the certified returns of the manual recount were accurate within 129 votes?

A. I do not know that.

No one can know that for certain, when there are almost three million ballots being counted, and the apparent margin of victory is so slight.

But when there are significant discrepancies affecting the validity of the results reported by King County, the issue is not whether the statewide total was accurate to within 129 votes. Instead, the issue is whether the reported election results are at all credible.

Canvassing boards are presumed to perform their duties in a careful fashion, so their certified election results are presumed to be correct; but when the substantial and plentiful discrepancies in King County were concealed from the canvassing board, no such presumptions can be given effect. Indeed, it ought to be presumed that the deliberate concealment of discrepancies made the county’s official canvass report unworthy of belief.

The excerpts from Reed’s deposition contain other interesting statements.

In two places, Reed was asked about his opinion of Dean Logan’s performance as King County’s chief elections officer and as a member of the canvassing board.

At pages 35-36, Reed described observing a King County canvassing board meeting at which Logan advocated further research into the circumstances connected with ballots which had been misplaced and then found in late November. Reed’s opinion was that Logan should have been recommending against including such ballots in the vote count, since they had not been in secure storage.

And, at pages 96-97, Reed stated:

Q. And Ms. Durkan asked you about the sentence in which you wrote, “I disagree with some of his decisions and actions this year, but I know he is now reporting to Ron Sims, not Ralph or me.” Is that correct?

A. That is correct.

Q. And the person you were talking about was Dean Logan?

A. Correct.

Q. What did you mean by the reference to Mr. Logan “reporting to Ron Sims, not Ralph or me”?

A. The example I gave to Ms. Durkan was how he handled the canvassing board that I was at in terms of whether to let the prosecutor’s office have more time to look at this – they voted no by a two-to-one vote – whether to just say, “Since these ballots have been sitting out at schools and churches unsecured, we just shouldn’t consider them.” Instead they did the opposite. And, you know, again, if he were reporting to me, I wouldn’t have accepted that at all. But obviously, he doesn’t report to me. He reports to Ron Sims. And I’m kind of assuming that that must have been, you know, the way he was supposed to be doing his job there.

Perhaps Reed has noticed that Logan and Huennekens appeared to focus their efforts on getting as many ballots into the vote count as possible once the close gubernatorial election became apparent. For example, signatures on provisional ballot envelopes were examined multiple times in an obvious effort to find someone who would be willing to say that the signatures matched those on file. And, the 785+ unlawfully cast provisional ballots were concealed from the canvassing board rather than being removed and referred to the board for a decision whether to reject them.

At pages 75-76, Reed described the role of the canvassing board with regard to remedying errors before certification – a role that was sabotaged by the concealment of the problem involving 785+ unlawfully cast provisional ballots:

Q. And is part of the process that mistakes that are made are corrected prior to certification?

A. The county canvassing board – it’s the role of the county canvassing board, if a mistake is reported to them, to see that it is corrected before they certify, right.

At page 81, Reed stated the proper remedy for a situation involving the presence of unlawfully cast provisional ballots in the ballot boxes – take them out:

Q. And by having individual pieces of equipment at each poll site that allows ballots to be tabulated at a poll site, does that increase the possibility that provisional ballots would be counted prior to being verified to determine whether they were cast by a lawful registered voter?

A. Not necessarily. Obviously, it did in this case. But with proper preparation, that shouldn’t happen.

Q. What kind of proper preparation could prevent that from happening?

A. By either bar coding those ballots so they don’t – so they will be rejected by the precinct counts. In Thurston County, what we do is we have different colors of ballots. So if somebody, in this case because it’s a punch card, drops the card in the ballot box rather than giving it back to the election board worker, we can see that it was a provisional ballot and not supposed to be in there, and separate it out. So there are ways of dealing with the issue.

Starting at page 97 and going on for many pages are questions and answers regarding the essential elements of ballot accountability and reconciliation of ballots cast and counted. It’s worth reading it all.

At pages 99-100, Reed was asked about the “audit trail” needed for polling place ballots, and his answer clearly and plainly stated the required voter-to-ballot reconciliation of total numbers at polling places:

Q. And why should a County keep an audit trail?

A. Again, it’s your basic elections practice to not allow for the stuffing of the ballot box by knowing how many, you know, voters you had that cast a ballot compared to how many you actually have within your ballot box.

At page 124, Reed stated what is plainly true about voter crediting with regard to absentee ballots – but has been obscured by the smokescreen spewed out of the “talking points” coordinated among the auditors of Kitsap, Pierce, Snohomish, and Clark counties, the state elections director, Nick Handy, and Dean Logan of King County:

Q. Ms. Durkan was asking you some questions about crediting. Mr. Secretary, do you know whether the crediting of absentee ballots takes place during the canvass?

A. The crediting of absentee ballots takes place at the time that they receive them. And the reason they do that is so they’ll know if they have more than one ballot that has arrived in from a person or in case there’s a provisional ballot cast by the same person.

Q. The crediting process with respect to absentee helps identify whether the person has submitted multiple ballots?

A. That is correct, right.

Q. It’s important that that is done prior to certification?

A. That’s correct. That’s a control feature.

Dean Logan has claimed that county canvassing boards have no choice but to certify the election results as of the deadline – no matter what.

Note this simple, straightforward answer from Reed at pages 140-141 about certification of county election results:

Q. Mr. Secretary, should a County certify results that do not accurately reflect the number of lawful votes cast?

A. No.

Don’t you just love it when a question which can be truthfully answered with a “yes” or a “no” is actually answered that way?

Reading these excerpts from Reed’s deposition was like watching miners drilling holes for the placement of explosive charges.

Let’s hope we soon get to the part where someone yells, “Fire in the hole!”


Blogger Deborah said...

Thank you Micajah!

I cannot wait for your analysis once the trial begins!

May 16, 2005 9:32 PM  
Blogger Josef said...

Thanks for your many, many contributions like this one.

I think it's slam-dunk: Re-vote, Gov'r-ROSSI (and Marummy - what a 2-fer!).

May 17, 2005 4:42 PM  

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