July 12, 2005
Voting by mail: fantasy vs. reality

Pierce County displayed the good sense last week to reject all-mail balloting after concluding that voting by mail actually costs a lot more money than voting at the polls.

Meanwhile, the independent elections task force appointed by Ron Sims seems to think all-mail voting is a good idea for King County

"I'm a believer," said task force member Philip Eaton, president of Seattle Pacific University, after hearing a presentation on mail voting by member John Lindback, the state elections director in Oregon, which adopted a vote-by-mail system for all elections in 2000.
I sent an e-mail to Dr. Eaton and other members of the task force encouraging them to invest some time looking at mail ballot envelopes and accounting records to get a sense of the inherent challenges of mail ballot processing so they can make a fully informed recommendation. Whether the members of the task force actually do this depends not only on their own willingness to spend the time looking at the God that is in the details. It also depends on Dean Logan's willingness to comply with the Public Disclosure Act and release all of his department's records, which so far he has avoided doing. The e-mail follows --

Dear Dr. Eaton,

I read the recent P-I article on the elections task force which quoted you as a "believer" in all-mail balloting. I hope the task force will share with the public the same presentation on the purported benefits of all-mail voting that you received. But before your task force formally recommends a move to all-mail balloting, I would encourage you to test your assumptions against some of the practical aspects of mail ballot processing.

Bear in mind that if King County were to shift to all-mail balloting it would mean that the number of mail ballots processed would increase by more than 50%. The voters of this county should be skeptical of any optimistic proposal to move to all-mail balloting unless the proposal also considers the very real challenges of accurately accounting for 1.8 million pieces of paper (900,000 ballots and 900,000 envelopes)

It would be an invaluable exercise for the task force to examine both how well King County's existing systems and processes for handling mail ballots could accommodate the increased workload, as well as assessing the cost and feasibility of upgrading the infrastructure to meet the required standards. The first step would be to understand how well the existing infrastructure performed in the November election.

As I'm sure you've read in the press, there were at least 96 valid mail ballots that were never tabulated and at least 875 more mail ballots tabulated than voters identified. To the best of my knowledge, King County has never presented any reasonable explanation for either phenomenon. I've spent a considerable amount of my own time examining county records and mail ballot envelopes in order to reconcile the various numbers and to try to understand the various discrepancies.

The preliminary results are sobering. The county has not been adequately cooperative in responding to my records requests. The accounting records I have seen are inexplicably sloppy and inconsistent with each other and with the samples of ballot envelopes that I've examined. I'll know enough to provide a more comprehensive and useful report after I examine more categories of ballot envelopes and other records which I've requested but have not yet received from the Elections section.

Before the task force issues its final recommendation on all-mail balloting I would invite you and other members of the task force to join me for, say, one hour examining King County's mail ballot envelopes and accounting records so you have the most informed impression of mail ballot processing. I await your favorable reply.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at July 12, 2005 12:33 PM | Email This
1. Kitsap county voted to go all-mail-in yesterday. I guess they want to have election fraud here too!

Posted by: Jeremy on July 12, 2005 12:38 PM
2. My wife asked me why these counties are going to all-male voting...

Posted by: Jack on July 12, 2005 12:58 PM
3. NO all-mail elections in King County! Are you listening, county officials??

Posted by: Michele on July 12, 2005 12:58 PM
4. Costs and logistics of mail in ballots:
A few years back the Sec of state came to the legislature asking for more money for elections. He cited the increased costs of elections due to increased mail in voting. He also said that it is more economical for small counties to have all mail in ballots, but not for the larger counties. One significant cost that Pierce County's auditor did not mention is the cost of duplicating absentee ballots- a time and employee consuming exercise. Of course the tediousness and human element makes it also error prone and voter's never know whether the ballots they recorded went in as originally written.
In a general election the estimated time to remake a ballot is 15 minutes per ballot. It takes two workers to mark the ballot together and a supervisor to oversee the process. In an 8 hour work day (less two 15 minute breaks) two workers can remake 30 ballots. With 30,000 to 60,000 ballots to be duplicated the cost can easily be well beyond $50,000 and working with crews of 20 to 30 workers can still take weeks to complete the job.

Posted by: Sue on July 12, 2005 01:01 PM
5. With King Co. voting by all mail-in ballots in '08 the Queen will have a comfortable enough margin of victory that a re-count won't be possible.

Think Ron "Tax to the Max & the Banker" Sims can get it done before his re-election?

These people are certifiably insane. Mail-in ballots were so FUBARed in '04 lets just do all mail-in in '06 and '08. We'll just have to trust them that all the bugs are out of the system.

Just how long are we going to let the inmates run the asylum?

TTBO, through the bastards out no incumbents get re-elected.

Posted by: JCM on July 12, 2005 01:25 PM
6. "I'm a believer." said the ivory-tower disconnected-from-reality academic. Obviously has not visited his own campus library and read John Fund's book on election fraud. Someone else sang "...I'm a believer..." too--they were called The Monkeys!

Posted by: Jimmie-howya-doin on July 12, 2005 01:30 PM
7. Excuse me? Dean Logan has not resigned or been fired yet?

What's the holdup?

As for Mail Balloting, as much as possible for the liberals. They know this is the only chance for them to continue to wrongly influence elections.

This is a great idea for an initiative. Show the taxpayers that it costs them far more to vote by mail, and ask them if heading to their local polling place a couple times a year is really too much to ask.

I'm sure we could get a lot of Republicans to sign on to this concept as a way to get around the lack of vote reform in the Democrat controlled legislature.

Sure it would be a small inconvenience, but as I mentioned above, this only has to happen once or twice a year for most people, and for many people who only vote in the Presidential elections, it would only be a once every four year sacrifice. Not too much to ask to help clean up the elections and lower costs.

Posted by: Jeff B. on July 12, 2005 01:41 PM
8. ..Not to mention that all-mail voting relies on the Postal Service twice -- once to get the ballot out to the person and the second time to get it turned back in.

I don't actually care for the accuracy rate of the USPS. Anything that is really important ends up going either insured or by a difference service.

Posted by: Sarah of WA on July 12, 2005 01:41 PM
9. Oh, and I forgot the side benefit. What young moonbat is going to take time out of their schedule to vote if they have to go to the polls?

This will drastically lower turnout for the lazy, poor, uneducated, etc. in short, for Democrats.

Posted by: Jeff B. on July 12, 2005 01:45 PM
10. I thought fraud was only true in Cook County
Meant for Illinoisans but not for me
Ah, Sims was out to get me
That's the way it seemed
Dead people voting in my dreams

And then they lost my vote, Now I'm a believer
Not a trace of fraud in the King
I love Sims, now I'm a believer
He won't change a single damn thing

I thought voting was more or les a given thing
Seems the more I voted the less I counted.
What's the use in tryin'?
All you get is blue
When I needed Dino I got screwed.

And then they lost my vote, Now I'm a believer
Not a trace of fraud in the King
I love Sims, now I'm a believer
He won't change a single damn thing

Posted by: Unicorn on July 12, 2005 01:47 PM
11. Unicorn--

As my personal hero, Larry the Cable Guy likes to say over & over again:
"That thar's funny stuff...I don't care who y'ar"!

Posted by: Mr. Cynical on July 12, 2005 01:51 PM
12. Sarah -- please -- the USPS is the best postal service in the world -- the only problems are in how the mailins get delivered to the po -- like why did KC ballots have to be taken to some mailing service in SnoCo -- the problem is not the po - it IS the elections depts -- and I believe in Florida in 200 they traced some shenannigans to inside postal workers -- -

The reason for this post is to keep the eye on the ball -- the real problem with mail-in is the elections depts of certain counties

Posted by: Bill on July 12, 2005 01:57 PM
13. Frankly, if King County attempts to go to an all-mail-in ballot system, I'd be one of the first in line to slap an injunction on them from doing so until the can PROVE that they have taken the necessary steps to ensure proper accounting and accreditation procedures and that they are fully compliant with all HAVA rules and regulations. There aint a snowball's chance in Hell that I'd be willing to trust Ron (a record any banking system would be proud of) Sims et al, to run an election under the current morass of shortcomings.

Posted by: Jamie on July 12, 2005 01:58 PM
14. Read that again:
"I'm a believer," said task force member Philip Eaton, president of Seattle Pacific University, after hearing a presentation on mail voting by member John Lindback, the state elections director in Oregon, which adopted a vote-by-mail system for all elections in 2000.
Don't you think that maybe this guy would have a vested interest in presenting all-mail voting in a positive light? Do you think he's going to highlight all the problems with all-mail voting, when they (Oregon) are already fully committed to it? I hardly think so.

Also, has this task force listened to any presentations given by people opposed to all-mail voting, or just those supporting it?

Posted by: Skor Grimm on July 12, 2005 02:12 PM
15. For instance - the late mailing of military ballots - so late they couldn't have been properly reviewed and marked and mailed back in time to be counted >>nice squeeze play there Logan

Posted by: Bill on July 12, 2005 02:12 PM
16. ...and we all KNOW that the military will get their mail ballots WAAAAY before the homeless, the insane, the felons, the illegal alien encampments and other non-eligible 'voters!' Hey--I'm 99.98% sure of that--right, Ron?

Posted by: Jimmie-howya-doin on July 12, 2005 02:14 PM
17. Bill, I have had WAY too many packages disappear in the USPS to trust it.

I haven't lost anything to Fed Ex or UPS yet. I lost a whole box of stuff. Left Texas. never arrived in Washington. I've sent cards to my parents in South Carolina that never arrived. And I watch bills like a hawk to make sure that they get through and are credited in time. At least two did not.

Posted by: Sarah of WA on July 12, 2005 02:56 PM
18. Please don't make me go back to the polls! They were as screwed up as the mail-ins were. Doesn't anybody remember the tally sheets that came in from the polls!

I'm probably more conservative than most who post here and I was just as fed up with the court case as you all. But I'd rather see KC Elections fix the problems than just throw my hands up and say mail-in voting is the problem. Mail-in could eliminate the provisional ballot problem, it gives more time to vote (which neither political party wants because then we can stop listening to their stupid ads days or even weeks before the election - yea!), people could go to the web and verify that their ballots were processed way before election day if they vote soon enough, yadda, yadda, yadda.

The problem is with KC Elections (and other counties too I suppose), not mail-in balloting. Eliminating mail-in, or refusing to consider all mail-in, just addresses the symptom not the problem.

Posted by: just another voice ... on July 12, 2005 03:08 PM
19. Dear Just Another Voice,

You avoid the critical issue of my catchy song lyrics above.

A One-Horned Horse

Posted by: Unicorn on July 12, 2005 03:59 PM
20. Well, with all mail voting, I guess anyone requiring a provisional ballot will be forced into the inconvenience of going to the county elections office. As long as there isn't an accuvote machine by the door this should improve the handling of provisional ballots.

I guess another advantage of all mail is the elimination of long lines at polling places. But without the polling places, how can you mount a good disenfranchisement campaign?

Posted by: SouthernRoots on July 12, 2005 04:21 PM
21. Democrats might have taken notes from the I-912 signature gathering process.

In 2006, King County will just send out a .PDF of the ballot so that Moonbats everywhere can print as many as they need to sway the election.

That will be faster and easier than having their Ballot On Demand printer, and we know they don't really keep track of the total number of ballots issued anyway.

Posted by: Jeff B. on July 12, 2005 04:29 PM
22. Disenfranchisement campaign?

Easy. SInce no one can prove delivery of ballots to the voters, or delivery of completed ballots back to the government, one can easily claim that said ballots were hijacked either coming or going, and no one could prove it otherwise. You could claim that a bundle slated for minority district south was grabbed from the loading bay and no one got their ballots. The problem with all mail voting is that you don't have a chain of custody for ballots once they are mailed off. Plus, you have millions of signatures to comapte. Not the most exact of sciences I would guess.

Posted by: Eyago on July 12, 2005 04:32 PM
23. Stoned hippies are disenfranchised by not being able to sit on their couch and vote. Ron, please add in some rolling papers with every ballot to help them.

Posted by: Ron Sims = Horses ??? on July 12, 2005 05:37 PM
24. Another issue politicians will fight to keep from the voters, I doubt Washington would actually vote for all-mail in ballots. And, yes, KC made sure they had problems accounting for both poll and mail-in ballots.

In my opinion, poll voting with voter picture ID (after proof of eligibility), is cheapest and most honest. Mail-in has twice the paper to track (ballots & envelopes), plus the time and expense of postage, sorting, and signature verification. If used with picture ID, poll ballots just go into the counting machine. ID has already been checked, so the cost of verifying signatures after the fact is eliminated, and I think they are just bundled by precinct. There is still the provisional ballot issue, and like mail-ins, they carry the time and expense of sorting and validating. But, with a voter ID card even provisionals become easier and cheaper to process, with the benefit of making provisional ballot fraud more difficult.

Unfortunately, only in our dreams.

Oh, oh, oh. . .a new source of state revenue. To cover the extra expense of mail-in ballots, maybe they should charge for them. You can get a waiver for shut-ins.

PS. Just looked at the back of my reissued Voter Registsration card. In red ink above Dean Logan's signature, it says "Voters At the Polls Will Be Asked To Show Identification." What a joke, I know poll workers. They are specifically instructed that they CANNOT ask for identification.

Posted by: dl on July 12, 2005 06:08 PM
25. Reality will never win when it comes to WA state elections. Best to turn our attention to generating make-believe votes.

Posted by: BananaLand(aka Iguana) on July 12, 2005 08:01 PM
26. DL
You missed the second sentance. This Card is an acceptable form of identification. No picture and it is acceptable. Here is a good fraud. YOu are a union member working in the Mail office. A number of these voter ID cards come back as Not located at this address. TO take a number of the cards home and pass it on to their friends. Now they get 2 or 3 votes or more. Remember the card without a picture is a proper ID. You have only one problem to figure out that may get you caught. If the Card says Mary Smith you had better have a female available to do the voting. I dont think a guy can get away with that unless it is made out to Sue Smith ("A guy named Sue")

Posted by: David Anfinrud on July 12, 2005 09:52 PM
27. Would it be possible to draft a citizen's initiative to block all-mail voting in King County ? Just one more reason to move out of King County or create a new county east of Lake Washington.

Since Pierce and Snohomish Counties have adopted voting in person, I'd prefer living in either of those counties over King - and I may do so, but not until I fire a parting shot at the most corrupt county in the state and likely one of the top 10 corrupt counties in the USA. Vote by mail in King County ? (Just because they do it in Oregon - Oregon has cleaner elections than King County though, but then again a number of communist countries also do).

Posted by: KS on July 12, 2005 10:10 PM
28. David A - you miss the point. It does not matter what constitutes identification, KC poll workers are instructed that they CANNOT request any ID. It does not matter what Dean Logan prints or says, in reality that is not what is happening.

In KC when you show up at the poll to vote, the worker will verbally ask your name, locate it in the book, ask you to sign the book, and hand you a ballot. The last I heard, they are specifically taught to not ask for identification. So, if you walk in and hand them something, they might look at it out of courtesy and use it to check the spelling of your name. But it certainly is not necessary, and if you do not volunteer it, they cannot ask for it...but you will get to vote.

I just thought it was ironic that the newly issued Registration Cards say "Voters At The Polls Will Be Asked To Show Identification," when it is just another totally untrue statement made by KC election officials. It is entirely likely that I could go to your polling place and without showing any ID, tell them I was your spouse and be allowed to vote. ID is NOT required, just the knowledge of who is registered where.

Posted by: dl on July 12, 2005 10:59 PM
29. Offering up my leftovers:

Remember what John Fund (voting author) said about Mexico's own voting system? THEIR voting i.d.'s have pix, prints, holograms, signatures, security threads, etc etc; and we are happy in WA with a "trust-me" i.d.--if that--by mail? A third world country protecting its citizens' votes better than the U.S.---any WA legislators red-faced about that? guess not...Caramba!!

Posted by: Jimmie-howya-doin on July 12, 2005 11:01 PM
30. I'm sorry...but I believe it's time to put an end to Ron Sims use of *Blue Ribbon Committees* and *Task Forces*. He uses these hand picked public brown-nosers and wannabe's in an effort to appear to give a thoughtful voice to the people - usually in cases where he and his administration have been accused of corruption. Heh - Nice trick Ron...but you are exposed. I don't recall our constitution allowing the will of the people to be decided by unelected committees and task forces - chosen by someone who's personal interests would be served in the committees biased suggestions and decisions.

Ron Sims wants an All Mail voting system in place in King County for one purpose only! To fraudulently win re-election in November. There is no other possible reason for the incredible and rapid push to have this flawed system considered and passed by our state legislature (Democrats) - in the midst of the discoveries of so many problems and questionable activity during the November election!

Our State is in big trouble. King County is blatantly being run by a corrupt Executive. Our State legislature is dominated by liberal Democrats bent on breaking the laws of our constitution to oppress the will of the people.
Every time another committee is formed and approves another loss of our freedoms or another raise in our taxes...the people groan!

The people did not elect committees. We need to bring any and all changes to our election system to the voters before we accept any task force recommendations. We need to bring any and all issues that directly impact the citizens of our state and our rights - to the people for a vote.

If we can't do this - then we need the NSA to pay our State and County Government a visit.

Posted by: Deborah on July 13, 2005 12:39 AM
31. All Mail Voting = FRAUD
A friend's daughter rec'd a mail-in ballot at his house. The disposed of it properly since she moved out of state.
When checking after the election he discovered that she had voted - or someone used her ballot for her. KC Elections at work!!

Posted by: Paladin on July 13, 2005 06:30 AM
32. Eaton actually is a good guy; i knew him pre SPU, so maybe the water has pickled his brain. He comes from private sector (real estate) and again is not a socialist. Funny he'd get rolled like this.

Posted by: righton on July 13, 2005 06:42 AM
33. Just another (liberal)voice,

Wonderful. You say "I'm probably more conservative than most who post here, This entre' always cracks me up. I suppose because you call yourself conservative I should be reassured that your empty argument is less flawed?

Please consider growing up a little and facing facts. It should be a little difficult to vote. I for one do not want people who lack sincerity about voting having the PRIVILEGE to vote. Problems at polling places can be resolved. All mail balloting is an invitation to fraud. Your comments are not sincere.

Have some concern for your integrity and that of the voting public at large.
Insist that you ride a bus (for conservatives drive) to a polling place and cast a ballot. I know its a chore, but downtown the buses are free.

Friendly hint: If you really were conservative (thoughtful), you would never make such a silly comment.

Posted by: Amused by liberals on July 13, 2005 08:38 AM
34. Just another--
You value your convenience more than the security of your vote. Short-sighted. KC Elections fixing the problems? ok--you want "easy," you got it;

Homeless problem too hard? move them to your yard; prisons too crowded & too hard to build new ones? release the sex offenders and thugs in your neighborhood; too hard to control your maxed-out credit cards? take out more home equity loans; terrorists bothering us? let's just give in to their "requests;"

Throwing up one's hands in the air solves nothing. Fixing election problems is painful but worthwhile.

Posted by: Jimmie-howya-doin on July 13, 2005 11:08 AM
35. Gotta LOVE these peoples logic!! Boy am I glad that Pierce county decided to have polling in person!Unicorn good post had me laughing!

Posted by: Laurie on July 13, 2005 11:10 AM
36. About eight years ago Pierce County was issuing voter registration cards that said "this card is proof of citizenship"- You gotta love Pierce County- they have no shame.

Posted by: A Ripley Fact on July 15, 2005 07:41 AM
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