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)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

"We've always done it this way," says spin-woman Bobbie Egan

What an enormous relief! There was no intent to mislead by presenting a false “mail ballot report” to the King County canvassing board. In fact, it wasn’t actually a falsification at all, says King County’s spin-woman, Bobbie Egan.

As reported by King 5 News today:

SEATTLE - King County's absentee-ballot supervisor has testified that she collaborated with her boss when she filled out a report that falsely showed all ballots were accounted for in the November election, The Seattle Times reported Thursday.
By law, counties must reconcile the number of absentee ballots returned by voters with the number of ballots accepted or rejected. Way's report showed perfect reconciliation because it simply added the number accepted and rejected to calculate ballots returned.

On Thursday morning, however, Elections spokeswoman Bobbie Egan said that ballot reports have always been created that way and that there was no falsification.

Egan said that any discrepancy between the numbers shown on the report and the actual number of absentee ballots was an oversight, not an intentional effort to mislead.

Is there a reliable way to distinguish between sheer stupidity and a dumb lie?

To determine whether the vote tabulation has included all legitimate absentee ballots, and whether the legitimate ballots have each been sent through the tabulating machines only once, the canvassing board must know how many ballots were available to be sent through.

To know how many there were, the board must know the answers to these questions:
How many absentee ballots were returned by voters?
How many returned ballots were accepted as valid?
How many returned ballots were rejected as invalid?
How many absentee ballots were sent through the vote tabulation machines?

The sum of the numbers of ballots rejected and ballots accepted should equal ballots returned. If the numbers balance, then one can be reasonably sure that all returned ballots have been processed in preparation for the vote tabulation.

The number of ballots accepted should equal the number of ballots sent through the vote tabulating machines. If the numbers balance, then one can be reasonably sure that all accepted ballots have been counted, that they have been counted only once, and that no illegitimate ballots have somehow been sent through the tabulating machines.

It appears that the only number King County’s elections office was pretty sure of was the number of absentee ballots that were sent through the vote tabulating machines, but they had no way of knowing whether that number represented all valid ballots or whether some ballots had been sent through more than once – or whether some ballots that were illegitimate had been sent through.

The false mail ballot report presented to the canvassing board lumped two essential numbers together. Rather than report the number of ballots accepted as valid and the number of ballots sent through the vote tabulating machines, it stated the number of “valid and counted” ballots.

The only way one could say that the false report was done with anything other than an intent to deceive would be to say that even a 10-year-old child shouldn’t have been fooled by it, and the people who prepared and presented it didn't expect the canvassing board to be misled.

Unfortunately, the King County canvassing board didn’t function at or above the level of a 10-year-old child, so they were apparently fooled into believing that the abstract of votes, at least with regard to absentee ballots, was a “full, true, and correct representation of the votes cast.”

The abstract obviously wasn’t correct.

And, it is reasonably certain that Nicole Way and Garth Fell realized that the only number they could state in good faith was the number of ballots sent through the vote tabulating machines. That number was available to them in the report generated by their “GEMS” vote tabulating system.

They didn’t know how many had been accepted. They didn’t know how many had been rejected. They didn’t know how many had been returned. They didn’t know how many were omitted from the vote tabulation. They didn’t know how many were sent through the tabulation more than once. They didn’t know how many rejected ballots were nevertheless sent through the vote tabulating machines.

So they made it up and presented a report to the canvassing board which indicated that all was well – indeed, all was perfect.


Blogger chew_2 said...


Correct me if I'm wrong.

1. Wasn't the statute specifying reconciliation of the absentees a new statute. So Bobby Eagan might be correct, that King always did it that way in the past because there was no requirement that they make sure they matched exactly.

2. As I understand the article, problems in the computer system made any estimate of the number of ballots returned unreliable. So rather than show an unreliable figure for the number of ballots returned, they just reported that that number matched the number of ballots accepted and rejected. This was stupid and deceptive. They should have reported the computer figure, even if unreliable, with an explanation.

3. Was this election fraud, or any grounds for contesting the election?

My sense is that this is not election fraud, even assuming it meets the common law definition of fraud, since it was not done to benefit one candidate over another.

Could it have been misconduct or neglect of duty? Possibly.

But whether fraud or misconduct, how did it change the outcome of the election to favor Gregoire over Rossi. Even if they had reported truthfully, couldn't the canvassing board still have legitmately certified the County's election result.

May 20, 2005 8:27 AM  
Blogger chew_2 said...


One other thing. Don't you think other county's have exactly the same problem as King. Do you think they have more sureproof ways of counting the absentee ballots received. I doubt it, or why have other counties reported they have found uncounted absentees.

Indeed I wouldn't be surpised if their reconciliation reports were misleading as King's.

May 20, 2005 8:33 AM  
Blogger Micajah said...

chew 2,

Taking your comments in order:
1. The canvassing board's responsibility to verify the accuracy of the election results has existed for as long as there have been boards. They cannot carry out their responsibility without knowing whether they have included all legitimate ballots, whether they have excluded all illegitimate ballots, and whether they have counted the votes on each legitimate ballot only once. Nicole Way and Garth Fell (and perhaps Huennekens and Logan) deprived the board of the knowledge needed to determine whether the reported vote counts for absentee ballots were accurate.

The current law, with its required “audit trail” for absentee ballots and reconciliation of the numbers of ballots received with ballots accepted and rejected, has been in the WAC since at least 1997 and perhaps since 1988.

WAC 434-240-270:
(2) The number of absentee ballots issued and returned, by legislative and congressional district, for each primary and general election;
(7) A reconciliation that all absentee ballots counted plus all absentee ballots rejected is equal to the total number of absentee ballots received.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 29.04.080, 29.04.210, 29.36.150 and 29.79.200. 97-21-045, recodified as § 434-240-270, filed 10/13/97, effective 11/13/97. Statutory Authority: RCW 29.36.150. 88-03-019 (Order 88-1), § 434-40-270, filed 1/12/88.]

2. It is not the job of Way, Fell, etc., to conceal problems from the canvassing board by lying about the numbers. It is their job to bring problems to the board's attention, so the board can decide what to do.

I think it is probably a lie that the computer system was defective. Instead, I believe Way and Fell were faced with exactly the problem that the lists of voters exposed in late December: There were more absentee ballots in the vote count than there were ballots accepted as valid. There probably weren't more counted than received, but the totals of accepted and rejected ballots in their DIMS computer system didn't total to the number of ballots returned as reflected in that same DIMS system. Their big problem was that the number of ballots accepted as shown by their DIMS system was hundreds less than the number of ballots sent through vote tabulation as shown by their separate GEMS vote counting system. They decided to lie in order to hide the fact that their data showed they had counted the votes on more ballots than were available to be counted.

3. Yes, this was election fraud, and yes, it's a reason to void Gregoire's certificate of election. Logan or his designee was required to swear to the authenticity of information presented to the canvassing board. Lies are not "authentic" information. The canvassing board was required to certify that the reported results were a "full, true, and correct representation of votes cast." The reported results weren't true. The legislature relied on the county's certification of results to issue a certificate of election. Those results weren't accurate, and the inaccuracies were concealed from the board and the legislature by lies. That's election fraud.

The beneficiary was clearly Gregoire, since King County's results provided her margin of victory. A more careful examination of King County's ballots would have risked the discovery that hundreds of ballots didn't belong in the vote count -- and whether one likes "proportional reduction" as a remedy for this situation or not, one ought to accept the obvious implication, namely that Gregoire's vote total would be less without those extra ballots in the count.

Berendt has said that all errors in King County hurt Gregoire, but he is ignoring the biggest errors of all that allowed 2200+ ballots into the vote count that didn't belong there according to all available information. (Information which was concealed from the canvassing board, the public and the legislature by the lies of Logan's gang.)

4. If there are similar problems in other counties, it's up to the Dems to produce the evidence. I won't speculate, but my two rules lead me to presume there are problems everywhere:
The least reliable source of information about the rules governing a bureaucrat's job is the bureaucrat whose job is governed by those rules.
It was always done wrong before, even when I did it.

Even if there were problems in other counties, and even if they approached the magnitude of those in King County, I don't know without seeing them laid out for examination whether they do anything more than cast further doubt on the crux of the matter -- whether Gregoire was duly elected.

Perhaps King County's canvassing board could have figured something out, and perhaps what they did would have satisified the legislature, but the process for determining who was duly elected was sabotaged by the lies of Logan's gang.

That's election fraud.

It deprived us of the opportunity to determine whether a governor was duly elected -- meaning Gregoire's certificate of election was brought about through fraud.

May 20, 2005 11:38 AM  
Blogger cc said...

There are definately problems in Whitman County. (It went for Rossi) BUT the problems were provisional ballots cast in predominately democratic precincts in Pullman that went for Gregoire. The Dems might try to throw this into the mix but it won't work. The election supervisor here will show that the mishandled provisional ballots in Whitman County were from precincts that favored Gregoire.
BTW Micajah, nice blog you have here! I am a big fan of SP and saw your blog recommended there today.

May 22, 2005 12:55 AM  

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