King County Elections: About 300,000 ballots on hand

I just got an email back from King County Elections regarding some discrepancies in reports on ballots received. The update: 114,000 new ballots arrived in the mail this morning, for a running total of about 675,000 ballots received thus far. And since King County reported results last night on 373,941 ballots, that leaves approximately 300,000 remaining on hand.

I emphasize the word “approximately” because there is some discrepancy between the numbers online, the numbers I was given yesterday, and the numbers I’m being given today, and because the ballots received number is always just an estimate. These numbers are also approximate because they represent the total number of ballots received, not the total that will ultimately be found valid; in 2009, our first all vote-by-mail general election, about two percent of received ballots were found invalid.

That said, King County is still projecting total ballot returns of about 720,000. They expect to report results on an additional 45,000 ballots by 4:30 PM this afternoon, with a significantly larger drop scheduled for Thursday.

King County Elections tells me that the official ballot totals do not yet include any of those collected yesterday from drop boxes. So that’s should add tens of thousands more to the total.


  1. 1

    SeattleMike spews:

    Rossi has a lot of experience in giving concession speeches; I’m hoping that he’s got a really good one planned for this time! Maybe he’ll even try to keep his word this time, when he says he has no interest in running again.

    After getting slapped down 3 times in a row even the slowest witted of dogs will usually back off and correct their behavior. Now he will should the chance to turn Coast Equity Partners into one of the state’s biggest foreclosure-exploiting companies!

  2. 2

    Dengle spews:

    King County doesn’t know the real total…no way. That just isn’t like them….oh wait it is. Once all votes are tallied then they find their approximate extras. I don’t believe it really, but it is hard to not think it since they have proven for the past 10 years to not be able to handle their jobs or care about us the voters.

  3. 4


    Dengle @2,

    Don’t be an asshole. Every single signature needs to be manually compared to the one on record. That takes time, as does the rest of the process. And with hundreds of thousand of ballots arriving within a 2-3 day period, KC falls behind.

    Of course, they could count the ballots faster if the spent the money to hire more people and paid overtime to keep the process going overnight. But I’m not sure taxpayers would be up for that.

  4. 5


    Yeh .. we know.

    That old Daley machine returns, Rossi is just too close for comfort!

    Wanna be that 60% of these “new” go for Missy Murry?

    Was it Dana Carvery who used to say, “how conveeeenyent!”

  5. 6

    Poster Child spews:

    Would it be feasible to shift the rules to having our mail in ballots delivered (rather than postmarked) by election day? – this repeated delay makes the late announcement of the generally liberal leaning King Co results look like we’re stealing it from the rest of the state, and Nationally we look incompetant.

    While I’m on the topic, you mentioned hours-long lines to vote in person and overstuffed drop boxes. What kind of asshole waits that long? (Goldy, i know you like to vote in person, and i don’t fault you for that; I kind of miss it too,…) To me it’s like being “undecided”, look, fucker, either you believe in something or you don’t, and if you don’t Fuck you and all the attack ads aimed at swaying you!

  6. 7

    Spike spews:

    Does anyone find it disturbing that the ballots now have the signatures on the outside of the ballot envelope, where every employee of the postal services can see your official signature? I don’t see any security in this process, which puts the postal service between you and the elections office, and I wonder why no one cares. I won’t put my ballot in the mail.

  7. 8

    CC "Bud" Baxter spews:

    Seattle seems to have a way higher incidence of ballots being rejected because the signature supposedly doesn’t match. It happened to me two times in a row. I suspect the problem is goonish GOP poll sitters rejecting signatures wholesale just to drive down the vote total. As compared to a basically non-existent problem, “voter” fraud, they are in fact engaging in “election” fraud where they try to throw out a whole bunch of votes in dem rich districts. Stinks of Nixon dirty tricks. When a supposed voter commits fraud, it amounts to one single vote. When they commit election fraud, thousands of votes are tossed in a matter of minutes. Look at the scale of each type of fraud and tell me which one is more serious.

  8. 10

    rhp6033 spews:

    Anybody who is worried about whether the U.S. Postal Service will deliver their ballot can simply drop them off at a designated drop-box.

    And as for the deadline being the postmark date or the received date, I opt for the postmark date. Nobody really knows how long it’s going to take the ballot to be delivered by mail – one, two, three, four days? The postmark date removes that uncertainty. As long as it’s postmarked by voting day, it should be counted as being timely.

    The only people really concerned about having the results by election eve are the broadcasters, candidates, and their campaigns. I understand they want to have a party and then go sleep it off for a couple of days, but it’s more important that everyone’s vote gets counted correctly.

    Besides, with the mail-in ballots, we STILL won’t get anywhere near complete results by midnight. It simply takes longer to vet the ballots (compare signatures), open the envelopes, run them through the scanners, and come up with a result. With poll voting, the first part of that process is conducted at the polling station, BEFORE you vote.

  9. 11

    Poster Child spews:

    rhp6033 – yes that all makes sense. Thanks for putting my temporary crankiness back in perspective.

    well part of the crankiness, anyway…

  10. 12

    Robert spews:

    Labor Department will be coming up with a new job category for Dino Rossi since his full time job seems to be “Election Loser”.

  11. 13

    uptown spews:


    You can check online at the county website if your ballot was verified OK. They will also try to contact you if there is an issue so I really don’t see much of problem. Maybe you should update your signature card.

  12. 14

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Republicans have been very involved in King County this election. I haven’t heard about any major conspiracies that would impact results by thousands of votes. Just a few small things that hopefully King County will prosecute on. Individual things where I don’t know if the perpetrator was even an R or a D.

    There is plenty of time to review systems & totals making sure by precindt that the number of votes counted = the number of voters credited with voting. That was one of the big 2004 problems that is supposedly corrected. Reconciliations are now required and improved.
    In the end, Votes must equal # of Voters credited with voting…period.
    We should via Public Records be able to know precisely who voted and who didn’t vote with a couple exceptions like Witness Protection folks.

  13. 15


    poster child @ 6

    re: Changing rule to “received by” vs “postmarked by”

    Pro tip: Ballots can only be tabulated on election day.

    Receiving the ballots earlier doesn’t help. Election administrators are already front loading as much work as possible.

    Your suggestion is one of Sam Reed’s pet issues. Proposes it every year.

    Fortunately, the association of county auditors have opposed this silliness. Because they know mail ballot processing takes time. They’re concerned that changing the rule will lead people (e.g. media, trogs) to expect quicker results.

    Want quick, cheap results? That strategy is called poll voting.

  14. 16


    dengle @ 2

    This isn’t 2004. Without naming names, that crew is long gone.

    Attend a canvas board meeting. KCE has restored, improved reconciliation procedures where every single ballot received is accounted for. Ditto errors.

    There are plenty of things to criticize about KCE’s administration of our elections. But they’re all policy issues, not competency issues. Touchscreens, electronic poll books, scanning ballots before election day, push for internet voting, push for automatic signature verification, etc.

    So if you’re going to criticize, at least make it constructive.

  15. 18


    cynical @ 14

    We should via Public Records be able to know precisely who voted and who didn’t vote with a couple exceptions like Witness Protection folks.

    Already posted online. Data files containing the voter IDs of everyone’s who cast a ballot. Used by the political parties to chase ballots.

    Mail Ballot Return Statistics

    It’s funny to hear you talk about the mechanics of government.

    In your libertarian utopia, who pays for the administration of public records requests?

    You crack me up.

  16. 19


    cc baxter @ 8

    Signature verification is done by election administrators. Observers have no input. If a judgement call is required, it’s handled by the canvassing board.

    KCE currently does signature verification The Nearly Correct Way. (To the best of my knowledge, I haven’t observed recently.)

    Worker has mail tray filled with ballots. Sits in front of computer. Scanned image of signature from voter registration card is displayed. Worker compares signature on each envelope with signature onscreen. If there’s a problem, the voter registration card is pulled from secure storage for a side by side comparison.

    Unfortunately, Sam Reed wants to replace human judgement with automatic signature verification. Which doesn’t work very well. But it does enrich his cronies, so it’s all good. (They did a study, but never published the report. I’ve asked for it a few times. Haven’t bothered to lawyer up.)

    Any way…

    The humans in some of the counties get trained by Washington State Patrol. They have experience with identity theft and check fraud and so forth. Pretty cool.

    While our county has the Nearly Correct Way, it could be improved. Here’s my two suggestions:

    #1 Store More Scanned Signatures Per Voter.

    Signatures change over time. That’s why so many signatures get challenged. Right now, the system stores one signature per voter. It’d be better to store each signature govt receives, so that workers could see more examples, see how your signature varies over time, etc.

    #2 Multiple Sets of Eyes For Each Challenge

    Scan the signatures on ballots received. Display registration and ballot signatures side by side on screen. Worker chooses “match” or “challenge”.

    Here’s the magic…

    Show all signature pairs to at least two workers. If both agree on a match, accept signature.

    If a signature is challenged by either worker, have a third worker review as a tie breaker.

    This idea was inspired by the collaborative image tagging game called ESP Game.

    Caveat: Fishing challenged ballots out of the trays is and would continue to be a pain in the ass.

  17. 20


    spike @ 7

    Mail ballot drop off is the correct answer.

    Talking about “security” is tough. It means something different to everyone. USPS is hardly secure. Which is why we don’t mail cash.

    Your concern about the privacy of your signature is legit. The only two times I used my “real” signature any more is my ballot and the few checks I write.

    All other places, I scribble. With the electronic pen, like the pharmacy or UPS, I doodle. Houses, trees, smiley faces.

    They don’t need my signature. And no one ever checks.

    Even the bank only does signature verification if there’s a red flag. (I researched this debunking Sam Reed’s unsubstantiated claimed benefits of automatic signature verification.)

    There’s another privacy “security” issue. It’s a whopper.
    The way King County processes mail ballots, it’s feasible to figure out how nearly everyone voted.

    The fix is to sort received mail ballots by precinct, instead of legislative district.

    I’ve talked to election administrators in other counties that do this. It’s feasible. And necessary to protect voter privacy.

    King County Elections’ push back is that precinct level sorts is too expensive. Okay. Fine. I didn’t choose vote by mail. They did. And I certainly didn’t willingly forfeit my privacy. They did.

    Since vote by mail is their decision, they assume the responsibility and costs of protecting my privacy.

    If this is a problem, then they should go back to Sam Reed, who championed this crap, and get him to pay for it.

  18. 21


    Goldy @ 4

    I’m against having multiple shifts. The permanent KCE staff already work their asses off. Mistakes happen when people are tired.

    People want quick results? Totally doable. It’s called poll voting.

  19. 22


    Among Jason’s good ideas @19:

    #2 Multiple Sets of Eyes For Each Challenge

    Scan the signatures on ballots received. Display registration and ballot signatures side by side on screen. Worker chooses “match” or “challenge”.

    Here’s the magic…

    Show all signature pairs to at least two workers. If both agree on a match, accept signature.

    If a signature is challenged by either worker, have a third worker review as a tie breaker.

    Even better, present the signatures such that the worker can’t tell which is the on-file one and which is the one on the ballot. That way, they aren’t matching an unknown to a standard (a one-way proposition), but just comparing without awareness of which of the two is the “right” one.

    Hey, man, you’re full of good suggestions! Maybe you oughta run for SoS. :-)