Canvassing board decisions mostly unanimous

In an excellent article in The Seattle Times today, reporter Susan Gilmore attempts to explain the role of the King County canvassing board, and how surprising little controversy has arisen from what could potentially have been a partisan fire-fight:

The three-member panel, which decides which ballots are eligible to be counted and certifies election returns, is made up of two Democrats and one Republican.

But despite the partisan swirl that has surrounded the governor’s race, nearly all canvassing-board decisions in this election have been unanimous, and members say their focus is on trying to apply the rules fairly.

For this factual description of the process, Gilmore was criticized by right-wing blog (un)Sound Politics, in their usual, dismissive fashion:

Well, of course they would say that. Or at least two of them would.

So to set the record straight, I decided to ask the other member, Republican Dan Satterberg, who was appointed to the canvassing board to represent King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng. Here is what he wrote back:

The King County Canvassing Board reviewed around 1,600 ballots during the manual recount that were forwarded to us by the recount boards for determination of voter intent. The vast majority of those questioned ballots were resolved by a unanimous consensus of the Board. There were probably only about 20 contested votes, though I did not keep track of the number. While the split was always 2-1, of course, I was not always on the losing side.

I think Dan’s words require no parsing.

Of course, the folks at (un)Sound Politics could have asked Dan themselves — they’ve claimed to have emailed with him before. But they didn’t. Because their goal is to sow as much public distrust in the process as possible, so as to delegitimize a Gregoire administration, and possibly force a new election.

The truth is, the process has been transparent, orderly, and fair… even in those counties with no Democrats on the canvassing boards. And canvassing board members like Dan Satterberg deserve a lot of the credit.


  1. 1

    Bob from Boeing spews:

    Thanks Dan – and your fair record on Medicl Marijuana is well know and appreciated in Seattle as well………keep up the very good work.

    Folks who know you, know as well, you are not Chris Vance’s shill….at this moment, however, some R’s thought that was the political plan/case. Too bad for them to so underrate your ethics…..and character.

    When Maling retires, run.

  2. 2


    Of course, the folks at (un)Sound Politics could have asked Dan themselves – they’ve claimed to have emailed with him before. But they didn’t.

    You are only trivially correct. I have not e-mail Satterberg since last week. But I did leave him a voice mail shortly before 11am this morning to ask him more or less what you asked him. He hasn’t replied yet. I’ll assume that for whatever reason he is able to respond to e-mails more quickly than he can respond to voice mails.

    Thank you for posting his response. But do try to be more careful before you hurl around other accusations when you don’t know the underlying facts.

  3. 3

    jcricket spews:

    Wow Stefan, if that isn’t the pot calling the kettle black, I don’t know what is. What happened to all the Republican accusations of insecurity surrounding the KC ballots? The Supremes went out of their way to point out the Republicans brought no facts to support their accusation.

  4. 4

    jcricket spews:

    I think one part of Dan Satterberg’s comment bears clarification

    There were probably only about 20 contested votes, though I did not keep track of the number. While the split was always 2-1, of course, I was not always on the losing side.

    So there were less than 20 contested votes, Dan wasn’t always on the losing side, and there’s no evidence that all 20 of those contested votes ended up going for Gregoire (or Rossi). For all we know all 6 of those votes went to Gregoire, 6 to Rossi, 6 were thrown out, 1 went to Ruth Bennet and 1 went to another candidates – and Dan Satterberg had his vote in favor of 2 of the Gregoire votes, against one of the Rossi votes, etc.

    I know everyone assumes that the KC canvassing board members were nothing but partisans, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. If that were true Dan would have said, “There were 20 contested ballots, 10 or more went to Gregoire, and I was always on the losing side of those contests.”

  5. 5

    Goldy spews:

    Thank you for posting his response. But do try to be more careful before you hurl around other accusations when you don’t know the underlying facts.

    Okay Stefan, I’ll accept that you did ask Dan, but didn’t get a response yet. I apologize for mischaracterizing your actions… but not your motives. You are clearly trying to sow public doubt in the integrity of the electoral process. But I think an honest evaluation of how the canvassing boards performed across the state, regardless of their partisan composition, belies the argument that their decisions were anything but fair and deliberate.

    And, well… considering the harshness of the rhetoric on your site, it seems hard to offense by such a gentle dig on my part.

  6. 6

    Christine G spews:

    At the risk of being flippant, does it really matter if the decisions were made on a 2-1 split. Soundpolitics seems to have a huge problem with that. The fact of the matter is that somebody is going to make a decision, and that whoever they are, they are going to have biases. If crucial decisions were made via partisan splits, that may make someone challenge the impartiality of the board (ALL the board NOT just the Democrats – it’s just as easy to assert that dissent was in bad faith), but not the legitimacy of the election.

    The Supreme Court said the canvassing boards have discretion. Whenever anyone has discretion, they are subject to charges of bias.

    Thankfully, however, there appears to not even be an appearance of bias in the votes of the board.

  7. 7

    Bob from Boeing spews:

    Any news of any County accepting VellowingAnd StealingVance’s “newly found” ballots. Talk about the possibility for fraud.

    Security, where have these ballots been? Have they been opened? Idiot voters – who are so marginal as humans they can’t follow simple instructions? Now, god damn, does my vote count less?

    c vance….ee cummings would have said…whee!! and whoa, go to the blow, the bow and the boots. you lossst…..tea and no sympatheeee

  8. 8

    AKinCA spews:

    Unlike Rossi, Vance, Lane, and the other rabid right-wingers, WA’s R’s who work as election officials (Sam Reed, Dan Satterberg, the Republican canvassing board members) seem to be moderate, reasonable, and thoughtful. If only the R’s in other states (like OH’s Ken Blackwell and FL’s Katherine Harris) would follow their lead. Reform may be needed, but with people like Sam Reed in charge, the voters of Washington state are in good hands. Bravo!

  9. 9

    AKinCA spews:

    Glenda Hood, who replaced Harris, is also rather partisan, but all the focus was on Ohio this year, so she didn’t get as much scrutiny (but maybe she should have).

  10. 11

    Brent spews:

    Gregoire gains a net of 120 votes during the manual recount in King county. I’m not sure whether or not this number includes the three ballots the canvassing board decided were for Gregoire, but if not, the number is actually 123. Logan kept slipping up and forgetting to add the three ballots to the totals, so it’s either 120 or 123. Either way, Gregoire wins by either 130 or 133 ballots state-wide.

  11. 14

    Bob from Boeing spews:

    Who the hell is Marummy – elected to what office? Josef – your life would be better served with a real woman to satisfy your needs. Fantasy is not subsitute for the real thing. But I don’t mean to be personal.

    She is not worth it.

  12. 15

    Brent spews:

    I wasn’t clear enough in my last message. Gregoire gains a net of either 120 or 123 ballots amongst only the 566 ballots which were added today. Add that to her current 10 vote lead, and she wins by either 130 or 133 votes. This is what Logan has just announced during the canvassing board meeting, which I watched on the King County channel.

  13. 16

    Bob from Boeing spews:

    Announced today – Rossi for 2008 – is that a concession? Or just a trick to use all the R’s money for him alone?

  14. 17

    Richard Pope spews:

    Bob — if someone wants to accept campaign contributions after November 30 following the election, then you have to file a new PDC form for that office, allegedly to seek that office in the next election. For example, Sam Reed filed his PDC form on 12-22-04 for the 2008 election, Rob McKenna did that on 12-16-04, and Dino Rossi did that on 12-14-04. I am sure that Dino Rossi is getting a fair amount of unsolicited contributions, as Christine Gregoire is no doubt receiving as well. (The two parties have funded this recount battle directly, since they can use soft money and unlimited contributions for this purpose.) Look for Gregoire to probably file a PDC form real soon for Governor in 2008. Unless, of course, she plans to return all those checks that have been postmarked after 11/30/2004 by her supporters.

  15. 18

    jcricket spews:

    Auditor in Kittitas is at least considering Rossi’s request (in the Times article titled “Legal challenges loom …”

    At least one county planned to consider the Republicans’ request. Kittitas County Auditor David Bowen set a canvassing board meeting next Tuesday morning to review nine affidavits submitted from Rossi voters whose absentee ballots were rejected because they failed to sign the envelope.

    “The elections need to appear fair and be transparent and accurate,” Bowen said. “Everything that gets before us should be discussed.”

    I think Sam Reed will advise the Kittitas auditor that what he’s doing is illegal. My guess is that meeting will result in the auditor taking the advice of Sam Reed, rather than getting sued by the Democrats.

    Again, as I’ve said several times, if Rossi’s people get even a single canvassing board to re-evaluate rejected (signature mismatch, no signature, other problem) ballots for Rossi, Dems will do the same, and still come out ahead. It’s a mistake for anyone to think that only Rossi votes got rejected.

  16. 19

    jcricket spews:

    Besides, as the article points out, those ballots were rejected for a valid legal reason, not because someone couldn’t find the signatures and put them in the wrong pile. At any rate, interesting developments…