February 14, 2005
What went down at the Courthouse
My highlights from this morning's King County Council meeting, where Dean Logan and Kurt Triplett (Ron Sims' chief of staff) presented their 2004 election report.
The first two hours were a complete waste of time. The meeting started 15 minutes late and with an unannounced half hour tribute to outgoing local NAACP president Carl Mack; Triplett spent 15 minutes giving a laudatory introduction to Dean Logan, and then Logan spent an hour reading the entire text of his report that has been on the web since last Wednesday and that all of Councilmembers had each already read several times before they walked into the meeting. You can bet that Politburo Chairman Larry Phillips scheduled it this way on purpose so as to take time away from actual questions, for which he only left 30 minutes (but which went into overtime until 1pm).
Among the more interesting points that the various Councilmembers raised:
Republican Kathy Lambert asked questions about felon registrations. Logan confirmed that his office will cancel the registration of a felon when it receives the conviction notices from the courts, but it does not maintain a list of felons so it can check whether a new voter registration is from a felon. Nor does he check any other database to ensure that a new registration is not from a felon. He claims he does not have statutory authority to refuse a registration that appears to be complete. I find that hard to believe, but let's grant him that. What he does have is the ability to be proactive and detect registrations from people who appear to have provided false information on their voter registration form (e.g. that they lied about not being felons) and report them to the county prosecutor. [Stay tuned, I have a thought experiment on this subject that I'll write up and post later].
Republican David Irons reminded us that when he was on the canvassing board for the 2000 election, the discrepancy between voters and ballots was not 1,800, but 17. He also mentioned that he spoke with retired elections director Bob Bruce, who held Logan's job in 2000 and says he recalls a similar number. I spoke with Bob Bruce later on Monday afternoon. He doesn't recall the exact number of hte 2000 discrepancy but said it was "under 20". Bruce also told me that in his 12 years in senior positions at King County elections he never saw a discrepancy that was anywhere near as large as the 2004 discrepancy and can't imagine what would explain it. [More later from my conversation with Bob Bruce]
Steve Hammond wanted to know who exactly would be held accountable for the various mistakes which Dean Logan and Ron Sims are trying to sweep under the carpet. Shouldn't some heads roll, he asked? Dean Logan, answered that rolling heads won't solve anything, there are just some "cultural issues" that will take some time to work on. (read: there are some really dumb friends of Ron Sims who have been given jobs in the elections office along with several surly Teamsters members who have been there for years and can't possibly be fired).
Newbie Republican Reagan Dunn echoed Kathy Lambert's concerns about felons being allowed to register and vote and pointed out that if Gary Ridgeway submitted a voter registration card, Dean Logan would allow him to vote.
Democrat Larry Gossett took offense at the suggestion that all felons were like Gary Ridgeway and said that he thinks we should allow felons to vote, unaware, apparently, that it would require a change to the state constitution.
Democrat Julia Patterson praised Dean Logan for giving a "very thorough" report. Her biggest concern was that Steve Hammond's comments that people who work in KC elections should be fired if they don't do their jobs properly would send the wrong message and discourage the hundreds of "grandmother and disabled people" election temps from participating in the process. Apparently she believes our democracy should depend on 75 year old ladies to stop the MoveOn.org goons from stuffing ballot boxes and that the right of a blind person to fulfill her dreams of working as a signature checker is tantamount to all else. Patterson poohpoohed all Republican criticisms of King County elections as sour grapes because of the outcome of the governor's race. Her solution: All the Republicans should endorse her lame-ass "election reform" package so she can call it a bipartisan solution.
Bipartisan Republican Pete von Reichbauer (bipartisan in the sense of he swings both ways) didn't ask any helpful questions, and neither did Republican Jane Hague, a former Manager of King County Records and Elections, who really should step up to the plate and use her knowledge to ask tougher questions.
Bob Ferguson, the one Democrat with some integrity on the Council, forced Dean Logan to admit that the 1,800 discrepancy was the net of both voterless ballots and ballotless voters and asked why there were so many precincts with more ballots than voters and vice versa. Logan said this was attributable in part to provisional ballots cast in one precinct by a voter from a different precinct [A misleading answer. I'll explain more later]. Ferguson asked Logan what the real discrepancy would be if he were to add the total of precincts with missing voters and precincts with missing ballots. Logan looked like a deer in the headlights who didn't understand the question. The Washington State Republican Party later in the day issued a press release to help Dean Logan answer Bob Ferguson's questions. That's probably not the kind of bipartisanship that Julia Patterson had in mind, but it works for me.
After Bob Ferguson, Dow Constantine had the second best performance of the Council Democrats, but only because he kept quiet the whole time.
Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at February 14, 2005
11:56 PM | Email This
1. Lord help us.
2. Wow. This is the first time I've seen the 9596 number. That explains why Logan was trying so hard to stick to his 1800 number. 1 is bad enough, but 1800 is all sorts of bad, so why wasn't he moveing it down? Because he had to have known about the over 5 times as many total variances. This gives an abiguity of almost SEVENTY-FIVE times the number of votes claimed by Fraudoire over Rossi in round three.
That was a masterpiece of a post Stefan!
Yeah, Julia Patterson got her sideways jab in at Hammond, accusing him of beating up on Grandmamas. That's just so typical of the worst of the worse of the Democrats in our area government. These people are will to throw the baby out with the bath water in order to make sure the poodle has some place to pee.
Hammond was pretty good. Ferguson was too, although he backed off his question because he didn't want to embarrass Logan.
I still don't understand why on earth Logan is falling on his sword like this for these snakes. He's one of those oh so typical Seattle type guys that has less testosteron than a castrated mouse, but still, even for a guy like that, I'd think he would have gotten p-ed off by now. Sims, Gregoire, and all the rest just aren't worth self destruction. He could easily just say exactly what you did - the people working in the elections office suck big time and until the County gets off it's pro-union circle jerking it can't be corrected.
And, I had not realized this netting trick was going on. So, really, what happened is a bunch of ballots dissappeared, and bunch other magical mystery ballots appeared.
If that isn't fraud, and everyone doesn't recognize it for what it is, I just don't know what to make of the sheep that are willing to live with it.
I have two comments Did anyone hear the softball question Felon scenario question from Dwight Pelz?. Does Dwight Pelz remind anyonme else of the Vincent Price Character Egg Head on Batman?. The last comment is about Larry Gossett's comment calling King County 'Martin Luther King County' and the disenfranchised black felons.......
Stefan !!!! Very Nice Post !!!!
I watched the Dog & Pony Show. I now know why I dont live in KC.
It was pathetic, at best. As noted by Stefan, there were good questions, but lame answers. Pelz mumbled and never really made any point, and Patterson looked stoned, and only whined about the 2000 presidential election.
Lambert and Hammond both tried, but I think were censored by the chair.
I think that MSM should air this episode for all of KC residents to see on primetime. It was a perfect example of Censorship, and although comical at times, it was in CG words "Ludicrious".
ALL KC taxpayers should witness what they are paying for.
JP Patches could have done a better job, at least I trusted him at one time in my life.
The apparent inability of Logan to filter the registration database for felons confuses me.
Initially filtering the registration database for felons would be time-consuming (elimination of false positives would probably require human checking), but once done update of the various county databases would be much simpler.
Since there are many commercially available databases that track state and federal felony records--records that can be readily verified--extending the felon check beyond our state borders could be readily done as well.
Furthermore, restoration of felons right to vote appears straightforward in Washington (http://www.aclu-wa.org/ISSUES/voting_rights/Restore.vote.html). Once a felon has served his/her time and paid the financial obligation they can vote. Cannot own a firearm, but they can vote (go figure).
So why cannot Logan et al do the same thing expected of a small firearms dealer?
mogura wrote, "Wow. This is the first time I've seen the 9596 number.
I think this whole show, as with the previous ones, is all about CYA, not about the truth.
It seems more like "Election Process in Wonderland" than reality.
"The most important thing," Logan said, "is that we not take radical action in the wake of this close race. We need responsible, meaningful election reform."
Logan: "There have been cultural issues in the division for years." (???)
"We knew that the Republicans would have to come after King County because they would have to make the case that something very bad happened here, and it's just not true," said Kurt Triplett, chief of staff to County Executive Ron Sims, a Democrat.
Huennekens said the integrity of elections doesn't depend on reconciling the numbers of ballots and credited voters, but instead rests on such "front-end" controls as maintaining security at polling places and verifying signatures on absentee ballots.
(Councilman, D-Seattle) Gossett said it was "demagogic" to crusade against voting by felons, who he said are disproportionately African American and who often don't have their voting rights restored because they are too poor to pay their legal debts.
Sorry for repeating some of what Stefan wrote about so well, but do these people hear what they are saying?
"Tough questions for elections chief as County Council looks into vote"
By Keith Ervin
9. Many thanks for the report from the Council hearing. Sure beats the pablum in support of Logan that the P-I offered as 'news' this morning.
From the WSRP press release:
There were 5,845 more ballots than voters in 1,318 precincts;
There were 3,751 more voters than ballots in 1,011 precincts;
There were a total of 9,596 discrepancies in 2,329 precincts.
I'll agree that the 9,596 figure is the true count of discrepencies, however I do wonder how the explanation that Logan gave figures into this. He said that if Voter Bob casts a provisional ballot at precinct A, but his real home precinct is precinct B, his vote will be added to the count for precinct B, not precinct A where it was actually cast. Seems very convoluted, but I do wonder if that is part of what lead to this huge discrepency of votes and voters.
We did get a couple key pieces of previously unknown info that might get lost:
Of the "1800", 69 were 'hidden address' voters, and 251 'federal absentee ballot'. (I think those were the right numbers - they were in the presentation.)
So we should adjust our numbers appropriately to give the stronger rebuke:
Voters: "xxxx votes were unreconciled"
Logan: "Yeah, but that includes all the hidden address + federal..."
Voters: "No, it is ONLY the unreconciled voters."
Is Dean Logan blaming the errors on black elections office workers? Cultural issues? They need more training?
"There have been cultural issues in the division for years."
I would love to understand the details behind that statement. Even more, I would love to hear the justification for Logan and others to allow this culture to continue.
But really, no one should care about the details or the justification. Just about how to rectify the situation. By objective measure (voting errors), this culture appears to have grown up since 2000. So correcting it should be fairly straightforward using normal management techniques. Retraining and selective dismissal are the two primary tools. Retraining so people know what they should do. Selective dismissal to eliminate the leaders of the dysfunctional culture and provide an object example to everyone else.
Which means that it will never occur under Sims/Logan.
Typically when someone refers to "cultural" problems that have existed for years, they are referring to a core group of individuals who have been in that office for years, and who have certain expectations about how things are done, and what they are required to do to get them done. Basically it means that he has a bunch of worthless entrenched folks working there whom he can't fire. And because he can't fire them, he can't open requisitions to hire new folks. Its classic government bureaucracy. You get these people in who make it their mission to learn all they can about gaming the system, so that they can do the very bare minimum possible and still get paid and accrue vacation time.
Maybe instead of a new building, we need a 100% new elections staff.
"Maybe instead of a new building, we need a 100% new elections staff."
Excellent Point Jason.....Cheaper Too !!!
"Vance said the county's number was misleading because it was derived by subtracting excess voters in some precincts from excess ballots in others. "You've got to add those numbers together, not subtract."
The Republicans' analysis said there were 5,845 more ballots than voters in 1,318 precincts and 3,751 more voters than ballots in 1,011 precincts, Vance said.
King County officials dismissed Vance's attack as an irresponsible attempt to undermine confidence in Democrat Christine Gregoire's 129-vote victory over Republican Dino Rossi in a manual recount after Rossi led in two earlier machine counts."
So that's it - using mathematics properly is an attack and an irresponsible attempt to undermine confidence.
Seems I read something about the quality of mathematics instruction in Washington state....and isn't this where Sims, Logan, and Huennekens were educated?
It's all coming together now.....
You got it right... Here is the letter I sent to Bob Ferguson when he got very close to the truth yesterday. Then Dean Logan pretended he didn't understand, and Ferguson promised to try to explain it better in an email to Logan.
I am not a resident of your district but I was watching the briefing and applaud/Thank you for your line of questioning in regards to the level of variances.
I believe that the number that King County Elections arrived at, approximately 1800+, is not a correct number. Netting out the number of ballots more than voters and voters more than ballots is incorrect. These are two entirely different problems/variances, and by combining them or netting them out, only leads to minimizing both of the problems that need to be addressed.
In fact one of the problems gets completely masked by the other. If it happened at the same polling place you might have a case for netting those out. In that case voters would get a ballot from the wrong precinct then the poll book they signed in. But when it happens at different polling places then they are two seperate problems entirely.
For example what if the number of ballots more then voters was 3,000 and number of voter more then ballots was 2980 in an election. But they all occurred at different polling places. You would get a net number of 20. Which looks really good on paper! In reality the number that should be reviewed in this scenario should be, or is more like, 5,980.
In my scenario where did the 3000 ballots go at various locations? And why did voters at other locations receive 2,980 more then actual voters. I am not asserting that in King County there was massive effort for ballot box stuffing or ballots being thrown out. But combining these numbers does not make sense. It only serves to mask a greater number that needs to be looked at carefully to determine what can be done to lessen both categories of irregularities when trying to present reasonable reforms.
I appreciate you following up on this and hope you continue to raise your concern for combining these two different numbers.
18. I got bored watching it after 15 minutes, it looked like it was going to be a very long expensive whitewash. It proved to be just that! It will not work in court as all of those questions will be asked and will have to be answered. This is their battle with publicity. They know it will be in court, and they know they will have to defend it in court. With 9596 voters without ballots and ballots without voters, even a 60 / 40 split would easily put Rossi over the top. I'm glad they are not managing my Bank account. Or at least not all of it yet, but with CG in office we might as well hand over the bank book and Pin number.
Jason wrote "He said that if Voter Bob casts a provisional ballot at precinct A, but his real home precinct is precinct B, his vote will be added to the count for precinct B, not precinct A where it was actually cast. Seems very convoluted, but I do wonder if that is part of what lead to this huge discrepency of votes and voters.
Vance stated, "You've got to add those numbers together, not subtract."
So if I live in precinct A but show up at precinct B and vote with a provisional ballot, according to Vance that counts as two discrepencies, when in actual fact it should amount to none.
Your theory sounds wonderful. If in fact these provisional ballots were properly checked and accounted for, they would not result in discrepencies. Do you understand the problem now?
They would know who you are, that you are properly registered, that you live in precinct A and voted in precinct B. However, it has now been 3.5 months since the election and King County Elections Commission cannot straighten this out.
That means either:
1. They did not check the provisionals for validity nor properly account for them, or
2. The provisionals are not the cause of the discrepencies.
Either way it's a problem, yes?
Unless someone comes out and says that this is voter fraud, the MSM won't go any farther in its investigation. Why is the Rossi campaign being too nice here and not calling a spade a spade ?
It seems like they are hesitant to do so because they may be called upon to prove it and they have doubts about being able to get their arms around it. John Gibson, who filled in for John Carlson on KVI yesterday brought this up and wondered why the Rossi campaign would not call this voter fraud and its a valid point, even it probably won't affect the outcome of the court case. His bottom line was; If you can't call it fraud all the more reason to move on/ or else a new election could end up being the gift that keeps on giving...With that said, I don't not agree with part of his analysis.
It either is voter fraud or it isn't - as for proving it/incompetence by the King County Elections Board that is distributed and the addition of votes for the successive recounts among other malfeasances gives the results the appearance of fraud which appears to look more real every day. Voter fraud does not need to be committed by one person - it can be committed by a whole host of officials, etc. as it apparently was here. It was Distributed voter fraud - that's my claim and I'm sticking to it !
22. What are the chances that ordinary citizens are so scattered that they go rushing around foreign precincts (other than the one they REGISTERED in), requesting provisional ballots to vote on? Pretty slim, thinks I, unless they are confident that King County will omit the checks necessary to bust them for voting multiple times. There may be method to that madness, and Dean Logan's incompetent (or corrupt) crew provides the incentive.
23. To Daniel K:
That is the most inventive bit of "doubletalk" I have seen in a while. If a voter votes in a different precinct they would not have signed their home precinct's book. Would't it be easy to reconcile any such votes by just checking the precinct books. I am sure they tried very hard to do that and still there are 9,596 discrepencies. Also, if all ballots cast at the precinct's were reconciled(matching #of voters to votes) when the polls closed, then it would easy to determine how many were added post election. I wonder if KC ever reconciled anything.
24. Jason, in answer to the number of 9,596, this is a total of errors of either voters who signed in but they could not find a vote for in that precinct, or votes in that precinct they could not find a voter for. As you have noted I mentioned "in that precinct". A precinct does not take the votes they cannot account for and just "give" them to the precinct the voter allegedly belongs to. The precinct with the excessive votes, provisional votes that is, keeps the votes and tries to verify the name on the provisional envelope against the databases of the other precincts. Obviously, if they are votes without a name then they are not provisional being without provisional envelopes and must have added to the tally without the verification of a name. This is the closest indication of fraud found so far in this election. THAT is the issue that had the KC council, election officials, and state Ds so worried and so desparately seeking CYA. If someone can verify any intent or actual occurence of fraud through their departments or party and there will be a general housecleaning that would significantly reduce their power base. What is needed is a memo, email, or directive from the office or official capacity of a position directing such fraud. Until then this may look like a skunk and smell like a skunk but persuasive argument will only make it out as a badly smelling cat.
25. Jason, one more thing. How would they allow someone to register at one precinct and not vote the that person go to another precinct, not register and be allowed to vote.
26. Letís call the error rate what it is. Take (roughly) 50,000 enhanced votes, add 11,000 votes without voters and voters without votes, add 1000 illegal, dead, and double votes, and compare this against 2.86 million votes. What is the percentage rate here? 2.2% This isnít about a .02% or a .2%, this is about a 2.2% error rate of which over 96% of that came from King County. That is why it smells so bad. That is why the perception of fraud is prevalent. Why doesn't anyone ask about those numbers?
Ron Sims has said that the accuracy of the KC count was low enough for a bank to envy. I would venture to say that the Feds would close any bank that had an inaccuracy in their records of anything even close to the shoddiness of the KC Records & Elections.
Would you be satisfied if you deposited your paycheck and a percentage of it just "went away" but the teller doesn't know why, the bank can't be responsible for tracking every single penny! The idea! We got MOST of it didn't we?
The more they heap on this pile of *$%#$# the more it smells like *@^%$, looks like *%^#(, and probably IS *(#%^#!
28. A precinct does not take the votes they cannot account for and just "give" them to the precinct the voter allegedly belongs to. The precinct with the excessive votes, provisional votes that is, keeps the votes and tries to verify the name on the provisional envelope against the databases of the other precincts.
The logical way to handle provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct would be to physically forward them to the right precinct, keeping transit longs to ensure everything goes where it should.
Even if this is not done, if there's a database that shows where people actually voted versus where they were registered to vote, this database would allow one to resolve any discrepancies that result from off-precinct provisional ballots, assuming that there were consistent procedures that were followed.
If neither of these things is being done, doing a meaningful audit is apt to be difficult; a cynical person might think that is by design. If the record-keeping is so sloppy that off-precinct provisionals get credited to different precinct from where the voter is credited with voting, without any record to reconcile them, the only way I can see to attempt to reconcile things would be to make a list of precincts that have moved, since that's the only "innocent" explanation I can see why many people would cast off-precinct ballots.
29. Unfortunately cat, this is the crux of the problem. Always before there was accountability and reconciliation, not this time.