Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Election Townhall in Shoreline
The townhall meeting was sponsored by King County Council rep Carolyn Edmonds and the League of Women Voters. Council rep Bob Ferguson was in the audience. Attendance was at least 200. It was tightly structured to the chagrin of many. There was a 1-minute limit on the public comments/questions period and most people were cut off. I was surprised that the host Carolyn Edmonds was not involved in the give and take. She did the welcome and such - before I arrived. But I thought as an elected official she would be involved in addressing the problems. It was her chance to show she was part of the solution. I guess she didn't want to appear to be part of the problem! Logan had 30 minutes to show every fact that made him look good and skip those that didn't. He couldn't leave out the fact that there are still 1800 more ballots than voters. But in several other areas he made mention of the problem and "don't worry I am taking care of it But he kept forgetting to tell how bad the problems were: How many ballots were enhanced improperly obscuring the voter's original markings? How many provisional ballots were counted before being validated? He just forgot to say. When Dean Logan made his bold declaration that the counting was as good as it can be the guy seated next to me cupped his hands and shouted "Bull bleep." He was just sitting next to me; I don't know him. Well, actually I do; but he's usually kind of quiet so I was as surpised an anyone. And a lot people agreed with him and were upset. A representative of Ron Sims (out sick with the flu) quickly covered Ron Sims' "independent review panel." That got a very big laugh and several pointed comments during the comment time. How can a panel appointed by Sims be independent? It can't. I don't take detailed notes. But some of the items that really stuck out - - 1800 more ballots than voters. Who cast them? That is a big problem five months after the election. - King County does not verify citizenship during registration. If you sign the registration form then he assumes you are a citizen. He says that federal and state law preclude him. It's broken. - A mathematician said the expert statisticians tell him that an election is just a sampling of the population. So you use sampling techniques and don't expect an exact result. I disagree: an election is the complete enumeration of those people who participate; so the expected result is exact tabulation of the count. - The rush to certify the election, even when the controls don't match. Logan said he had to certify the election in 15 days, so he did, despite knowing there were problems. There was push-back from the audience. During the comment time Stefan Sharkansky said that Logan was wrong: the law says you only certify if the counts match up. - A woman who was an observer of the recount said that there were tables that no one could get within 20 to 30 feet of. So it was not possible to verify that the ballots were correctly tabulated. - Stefan held up the mail vote report done by Logan. An employee said that information in it was false. When will it be corrected? Logan mumbled an acknowledgment that there was a problem. Well, his words weren't mumbled, but the meaning was. Stefan: when will this report be corrected? No promise. - How many absentee ballots were returned in the mail? Logan doesn't know. The evening ended on a comical note. A man asked about homeless people who give the King county administration building for their address. When anyone registers the elections department mails a confirmation. If the confirmation is returned then the person is taken off the voter role. But if a homeless person gives 500 5th Avenue what do you do with the mail for him/her. Logan's answer: "Oh, yes, the political flyers start arriving and we shred them." Question: But how about their confirmation? Logan: "Oh, that's different." With the one-minute limit it took the guy 3 turns through the line - short by this time - to finish exploring this question and it sure made Logan's process appear to be ad hoc. It was both funny and sorry.