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, May 20, 2005

Way's Way to Fake a Mail Ballot Report

Nicole Way, the supervisor of mail ballot operations for King County (who is now on administrative leave after the discovery of a few significant errors in that operation), seems to be a bureaucrat who did things simply because she thinks they’ve always been done that way. Little in her deposition indicates that she grasps, or even cares about, the purpose or objective involved in the work and the steps taken to accomplish the work.

The transcript of Way’s deposition has been posted at Sound Politics by Stefan Sharkansky.

Note in this excerpt how the false mail ballot report prepared by Way omitted all information which would have shown a discrepancy involving more ballots in the vote tabulation than had been accepted as valid ballots.

Note also that she seems not to have been concerned about the effect of falsifying that report. The idea of reporting the matter to the canvassing board never seems to have crossed her mind, even though anyone with common sense plus a well developed sense of right and wrong would have thought of that as the only thing to do.

In the falsified report, the number for absentee ballots returned was nothing more than the ballot count from the “GEMS” vote tabulating system plus the number of ballots that weren’t sent through the vote count. Nothing about that total would enable anyone to determine whether all returned ballots had been processed in preparation for counting the votes on valid ballots.

The number for “valid and counted” was simply the ballot count from “GEMS.” Nothing about that number would indicate whether the number of ballots sent through the vote tabulation machines was equal to, less than, or greater than the number of valid ballots that belonged in the vote count.

The mail ballot report simply said “we counted the votes on this many, and we excluded this many from the vote count.”

That was perhaps an accurate depiction of what was physically done with the ballots that were set aside and those that were sent through the vote counting machines, but it provided no information from which the canvassing board could verify that the correct number of ballots had gone through the vote count or been set aside as invalid.

Pages 47 – 50, regarding the mail ballot report of November 17, 2004:

Q. (By Mr. Maguire) The second line is, Total number of ballots returned, 568,333; is that right?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know where the data for this entry came from?

A. Yes.

[Page 48]

Q. Where did it come from?

A. We took the total amount of ballots counted from GEMS and added up the hand-count of the ballots that were not counted.

Q. So that number is not a report from DIMS?

A. No.

Q. That’s different than the information contained on your spreadsheet?

A. Correct.

Q. Did you decide to use that different number there than what was on your spreadsheet, or a different method of calculating total number of ballots returned?

A. The number on my spreadsheet was total number of ballots loaded into DIMS. It didn’t include the various things we’ve already talked about. So we couldn’t use that number.

Q. Did you have a discussion with anyone when you were creating the mail ballot report as to what information should be reflected in the total number of ballots returned?

A. Yes.

Q. With whom did you have the discussion?

A. Garth Fell.

Q. And what was the substance of the discussion?

A. We discussed how to fill out this report, because we didn’t have an accurate number of ballots returned.

Q. Did Mr. Fell decide that the number reflected on the mail ballot report of ballots returned should be the sum of the

[Page 49]

total counted by GEMS and those rejected?

A. I believe so.

Q. Was anyone else involved in the conversation between you and Mr. Fell on this subject?

A. I only discussed this with Garth Fell.

Q. You’re not sure whether it was his idea or your idea?

A. We discussed how to fill out this report, and we both agreed that the only thing we could do is take the GEMS count and add in what we hadn’t counted.

Q. Did you discuss any other alternatives?

A. Not that I recall.

Q. The third line on the mail ballot report is the, Total number accepted valid and counted is 546,222. Is that right?

Mr. Porter: Were you asking her if that’s the right figure?

Mr. Maguire: No, is that what the document says.

The Witness: 564,222 is what the document says.

Q. (By Mr. Maguire) Do you know how that number was derived?

A. That’s how many ballots the GEMS data base showed as being tabulated.

Q. And the mail ballot report indicates 4,111, Total number of ballots rejected. That’s what the report says?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know how that number was calculated?

A. We hand-counted all of the ballots that were rejected, and [Page 50] that’s the total of the various categories.

Q. Would the GEMS report used for the total number accepted as valid and counted reflect ballots cast by individuals in the Address Confidentiality Program?

A. Yes.

Q. And individuals who cast federal write-in ballots?

A. Yes.


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