For nearly a week the the right-wing blogs have cast an OCD-like focus on the “shocking” discrepancy in King County’s election returns. The data shows 3,539 more ballots counted than people voting, supposedly proving KC Elections is grossly incompetent — if not totally corrupt. This, we are told (again, and again, and again,) is the “smoking gun” that will force the courts to call for a new election.
Stefan at (un)Sound Politics has delved into these numbers with his usual reckless abandon (you know… for reason, logic, or fairness,) despite the fact that the Secretary of State, county auditors, and state statute all confirm that these returns are “unofficial”, and that discrepancies such as these are common.
How common? Well according to an AP report by Rebecca Cook, state Republicans are claiming at least four “Rossi-supporting counties have similar shortfalls.”
Snohomish County has 1,738 fewer voters on its list than certified votes; Pierce County has 1,640; Clark County has 1,018; and Kitsap County has 484.
So I did some number crunching, and I think you’ll find it curious to see how these discrepancies compare as a percentage of total votes cast per county. (For a lark, I have also included the voting margins.)
County Discrepancy Rossi Gregoire Clark .59% 53% 45% Snohomish .58% 50% 48% Pierce .52% 51% 47% Kitsap .41% 49% 48% King .39% 40% 58%
Now if I were as statistically devious as some bloggers I know, I might point out an interesting pattern emerging: that the relative discrepancy rate is nearly proportionate to Dino Rossi’s margin of victory. But what should be plainly clear to even the most partisan observer is that despite the unrelenting attacks on the integrity and competence of their election officials, King County has by far the lowest discrepancy rate of any of the counties surveyed.
Are the results preliminary? Absolutely. Are discrepancies of this magnitude uncommon? Apparently not.
The discrepancy is “definitely, absolutely normal,” said Pierce County Auditor Pat McCarthy. She said the list of names may not include voters who have moved in the two months since the election and whose names have been “cleaned” from the rolls, and it may not include voters who were previously categorized as “inactive.”
Indeed, Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey — a Republican — expects only about half of the vote-to-voter discrepancy to be accounted for in the final returns… but he has no plans to try to account for the extra votes:
“It would be a huge task,” Kimsey said. “You are looking through 121,679 absentee ballots, affidavit envelopes and through poll books where 50,598 voters cast their ballots.
“The controls that are in place in the election process ensure that only registered voters are going to receive a ballot. While I understand the concern that comes from seeing two different numbers, the controls are at the front end.”
As of this writing, our friends at (un)Sound Politics (and their emissaries commenting here) have yet to focus on discrepancies outside of King County. Perhaps they haven’t yet decided what to do with the rhetorical dilemma this information presents them. They could follow Chris Vance’s ill-advised legal strategy and attempt to call into question the integrity of results statewide. Problem is, the law doesn’t actually require the counties to reconcile the voter lists with the number of votes counted.
Or they could continue their Ukrainian-themed festival of Democrat-bashing propaganda, in a desperate attempt to prove to themselves — if not the public or the courts — that a corrupt and incompetent King County stole this election.
I’m guessing they’ll try a little of both. But whatever they do, it’s quickly becoming apparent that yet another one of their smoking guns… shoots blanks.