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, June 01, 2005

Does Linda Sanchez know?

Linda Sanchez, who supervised the canvassing of polling place ballots, began her testimony today.

These excerpts from her testimony (starting at 5 hours and 19 minutes and going to 5 hours and 21 minutes on TVW’s archived audio recording) make it appear that she doesn’t know the purpose of the canvassing process:

Q. What’s the purpose of the canvass?
A. Well, the purpose of the canvass is really to – essentially is to look at the poll books and kind of reconcile the poll books. It’s the main part of the canvass.
Q. Is this an important part of the administration of an election – this canvassing process?
A. I think it’s an important part, because it’s the link we have with the polls and the poll workers’ duties for that day – for the election day. We look at the poll books, and that kind of gives the story of what happened at that polling place.
Q. Is it important that that work be done fairly and impartially?
A. It’s very important.
Q. Why is it?
A. Well, it’s something that is used by our department to see how it went at the polls on election day, to reconcile the number of signatures in a poll book with number of ballots that were issued to the voters on that day. [Emphasis added.]

The purpose of canvassing the ballots cast at polling places is to determine whether the ballots included in the vote tabulation were legitimate – that is, whether they belong in the vote count.

Knowing whether the number of ballots issued matches the number of signatures isn’t the point. The point is to know whether the number of voters who signed the poll books and were credited with participating in the election by casting regular polling place ballots (not provisional ballots) matches the number of ballots inserted into the ballot box via the Accuvote machine or into the side bin of the ballot box for later tabulation as what King County calls "add ons."

In King County, the votes marked on virtually all regular ballots cast at polling places were tabulated by Accuvote machines. The vote counts done by the machines were later uploaded into the central vote tabulation system. "Add ons" were for one reason or another not tabulated at the poll sites, but were tabulated later at the central counting center.

So, it’s necessary to know whether those vote counts from the polling places are a true representation of the legal votes cast in each polling place.

The essential purpose of this part of the canvassing process is to determine whether the number of ballots scanned by the Accuvote machine at each polling place is the same as the number of voters credited at each polling place -- taking into account the "add ons" which weren't counted by the Accuvote machine.

For every voter credited in the poll books with participating in the election, there ought to be a ballot in the ballot box under the Accuvote machine or in the ballot box's side bin – and no more than or less than one ballot in the box for each such voter.

It’s not a reconciliation of the number of signatures and the number of ballots issued. It’s a reconciliation of the number of voters credited and the number of ballots included in the vote tabulation.

The petitioners ought to be able to demonstrate in their cross-examination of Sanchez that the presence of hundreds of ballots in the vote tabulation in excess of credited voters was discovered during this canvassing of polling place ballots.

This part of the canvassing process served only part of its purpose – to discover the presence of any illegitimate ballots that had been included in the vote tabulation.

But the other part of its purpose wasn’t served: The canvassing board wasn’t told of the material discrepancies, and thus had no opportunity to consider how to remedy the situation.

Why wasn’t the canvassing board told?


Blogger Paul Hirsch said...

I've been watching the trial via live feed, but only with one eye and one ear, so to speak, and I am confused about the issue of crediting. RCW 29A.44.231 states the crediting "shall" be done at the polling place. But wasn't there earlier testimony that described crediting as a ministerial action done after the election to ensure voter registrations remain current? I recall testimony about an election worker sitting in a room by herself wanding barcodes, etc.

And what was the Court's ruling on the use of crediting data? Thanks in advance for any help someone can give me on this issue.

June 02, 2005 7:56 AM  
Blogger Micajah said...

Nick Handy, Dean Logan, etc., don't use "voter crediting" to mean the same thing as the term means in the law.

They usually mean the process of updating each voter's voting history in the voter registration records to show the date of the last election in which each individual voted.

That updating is done by using the original records that show who was credited with voting.

For polling places, the voter crediting is done, as required, at the instant a regular ballot is issued to a voter. For absentee and provisional ballots, voter crediting is done, as required, at the instant the ballot is verified and accepted for inclusion in the vote count.

The judge was sold a false bill of goods based on the same "talking points" memo that Nick Handy, Logan, etc., created in late January. He even quoted a part of it in his ruling.

In part, the judge's ruling was correct -- that the voting history records shouldn't be relied on to show whether a particular felon voted. The physical act of scanning the bar codes in the poll books in order to upload the data into the central database is somewhat unreliable -- the person doing the scanning occasionally scans the bar code above or below the actual voter's line, resulting in a database that says "Felon Jones" voted when actually "Good Citizen Not A Felon" was the voter.

However, the judge's ruling was so broad that it carries over into other aspects. When he said that "voter crediting is a post-election administrative exercise that has nothing to do with the authenticity of the election results," he was adopting the "spin" from Handy, Logan, etc.

Now, when the petitioners allege, for example, that 875 more absentee ballots were included in the vote count than there were voters identified as casting absentee ballots, they have a problem. The only way to know the difference in the aggregate numbers is to rely on the "voter crediting" that occurred when the ballots were verified.

So, maybe the judge will back away from his broad statement, which was in part erroneous.

Don't count on Handy, Logan, etc., backing away from their incorrect use of the term "voter crediting." Just recognize that they usually mean "updating voting history records" rather than "voter crediting" when they say "voter crediting."

June 02, 2005 9:58 AM  
Blogger Paul Hirsch said...

So, I was supposed to be confused :-> As was the Court.

June 02, 2005 11:32 AM  
Blogger Paul Hirsch said...

Let me begin by apologizing for not reading your earlier posts where you had already explained the diverse use of the term "crediting."

But if you would indulge me a little more, you previously stated "However, the judge's ruling was so broad that it carries over into other aspects. When he said that "voter crediting is a post-election administrative exercise that has nothing to do with the authenticity of the election results," he was adopting the "spin" from Handy, Logan, etc."

I can't find this ruling on the SOS website. Was it reduced to an Order? Thanks again.

June 03, 2005 8:02 AM  
Blogger Micajah said...

Stefan Sharkansky posted a "pdf" file of the May 2 rulings on May 6 at Sound Politics.

June 03, 2005 1:17 PM  

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