Times’ headline accuracy called into question

I’m lazily reclining, with my iBook on my lap, enjoying a hot cup of gunpowder green, and looking forward to spending a sunny Sunday in the garden, pruning my raspberries and planting peas, when I surf on over to The Seattle Times and… ahhh shit! I see the headline: “State’s election accuracy called into question.” Looks like I’m going to have to waste my morning refuting another bullshit hack job.

Then I read Eric Pryne’s article, and his companion piece (“Idea of closer scrutiny met with mixed reaction“), and he’s actually done quite a good job explaining a rather complicated subject. (I don’t know under what headlines these articles appear in hard copy, but whoever edits the home page deserves a rhetorical beating.)

Pryne actually cites the authoritative research conducted by the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project, and while he doesn’t use the terminology, he discusses the two most common metrics for measuring the accuracy of elections, the “residual vote rate” and the “tabulation validation rate.” (Some of you may remember that these studies were the subject of a protracted pissing match between me and the Snark.)

The residual vote rate measures the percentage of ballots for which no vote was recorded in a major election like president or governor. Some of these “under votes” are surely intentional, but since similar precincts using different voting technology can have dramatically different residual vote rates, it can be assumed that some of the under vote is attributable to the voting technology — primarily, the way the voter interacts with it.

Numbers varied widely across the nation by ballot type, researchers found


  1. 1


    Nice analysis of the analysis.

    You asked:

    I don’t know under what headlines these articles appear in hard copy, but whoever edits the home page deserves a rhetorical beating.

    It was top of the Local News sections and read: Changing numbers call state’s election accuracy to question in large letters.

    Sensationalist headline once again.

  2. 2

    Josef the Dinocrat in Marummy Country spews:

    I think that lame-ass poll of yours needs to be reconciled.

    Marummy IS tops!!

    Even a dog doesn’t deserve the way you guys talk about my valentine!!


  3. 3

    marks spews:

    This is a pragmatic notion that acknowledges that no election can be perfect, and that the outcome of any extremely close election is uncertain. That is why it is Rossi’s burden to prove – not that he may have received more votes – but that he actually did.

    He did. Twice.

  4. 5

    marks spews:

    rwb –

    Do you deny the statement of fact “He did. Twice.”, or are you just calling me a fool to ease your insecurity?

  5. 6

    Josef the Dinocrat in Marummy Country spews:

    Well, you all…

    Great poll today. Mary Lane more trustworthy than so-called “election experts” and Jon Stewart.

    This is a great day for lovers of freedom. Especially for those whom think that “every vote should have a voter”.

    And yes, Mary Lane IS my valentine!

  6. 8



    I agree that the apparent outcome of the election was very close, but I’m wondering what role you think a contest of an election plays.

    You say: “I have always maintained that the margin of victory within the governor’s race is too far within the margin of error to determine the outcome with absolute confidence. Our election statutes actually anticipate extraordinarily close elections, and they offer a remedy: a single, hand recount.”

    Now, suppose someone gets a team of wild horses harnessed up and drags out of Dean Logan the one thing he has avoided revealing or talking about — the records which would show whether there was ever a reconciliation of voters and ballots before King County certified its returns (precinct by precinct or polling place by polling place).

    Suppose that happens — wild horses drag it out of Logan and his records show at least 1800 more ballots were cast and counted than there were signatures in those poll books — then what?

    Do you believe there is any provision in law for dealing with such a situation? Or, do you think we just shrug and move on?

  7. 9

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Excellent….the $64,000 question, isn’t it?!!
    The depositions will be both entertaining and informative.
    Plenty of new revelations for Goldy to try to “spin” away.
    Once these depositions start, Goldy will be busier than a one-legged guy in a butt-kickin’ contest!

    Goldy also likes to avoid detailed discussions about what the word APPEARS will mean. The Leftists repeated over & over & over again that the R’s had to PROVE FRAUD!!!! Judge Bridges obviously isn’t going to “invent” a new standard when the law clearly uses the word APPEARS!!!!! Obviously the word APPEARS appears in the law because ballots are comingled for secrecy….by law. The Dems are in for a real rude awakening as the depositions and trial begins.

  8. 10

    Goldy spews:

    Micajah @8,

    It doesn’t require wild horses. All it requires is asking (which I did), and King County did indeed perform the precinct-by-precinct reconciliation as required by law.

    Due to timing, I was cut off mid conversation with Bobbie Egan at KC Elections, so I was going to wait until Monday to blog on this, after I had a few more questions answered, but perhaps I’ll post something later tonight, and then follow up.

    The question you should be asking yourself is: “Why, if this information is sitting down at KC Elections, hasn’t anybody from Rossi’s legal team, the BIAW (or Snark, for that matter) asked to see it?” Perhaps they don’t want to know the answer?

  9. 11


    Perhaps the GOP doesn’t want to see it, but I do.

    I don’t understand why Logan and his crew haven’t offered it at one or all of their public appearances to show that there really weren’t a few thousand “voterless ballots” and “ballotless voters” from the polling places.

    It’s not as though the issue has been ignored during the past seven weeks. If anything, the apparent discrepancy that became public knowledge on Dec. 30 was like pouring gas on a smoldering fire.

    Yet, Logan keeps saying that the process of updating voter registration records isn’t part of the reconciliation process, and that there were mistakes made at the polling places — but never, ever does he say that the records show neither the existence of ballots “from nowhere” nor the disappearance of ballots that were “dumped” before they could be sent through the vote tallying process.

    I’ll be interested to hear what you find out. It looks as though the judge is in no hurry to hear the evidence, but I’m impatiently waiting for any clue as to what the evidence is.

  10. 12

    Goldy spews:

    Micajah… by the way, I can imagine plenty of cases where an election contest might prevail… this just isn’t one of them. My point has always been that uncertainty over the result is not enough. There must be evidence that the outcome is likely wrong.

  11. 13

    Shawn Paulson spews:

    Show any hard evidence that any illegal or error vote can be linked to a particular candidate. Alternatively, show the legal basis for apportioning voting errors. Both answers contain empty sets. Why is this so hard to see? I wish the Washington State GOP would stop embarrassing intelligent consevatives.

  12. 14

    Jpgee spews:

    Joseph @ 2 6 what happened? you were gone for so long and this blog was getting to be decent again for exchanging views and ideas. now you have returned with your ‘puppy love’ for that egotistical wingnut. go back to your meds, your hospital or your sanitarium again, please

  13. 15

    marks spews:

    Why is this so hard to see? I wish the Washington State GOP would stop embarrassing intelligent consevatives.

    I have never seen an opposing point made so clearly…

  14. 16

    Shawn Paulson spews:

    …conservatives; the typo was my mistake. So what’s your point marks? Intellegent people can’t make mistakes? Do you always sign your name in the lower case?

  15. 17

    marks spews:

    Shawn Paulson, just doing some homework:

    “Erik, the Democrats control 26 of 49 seats in the senate. If Rossi pays for a revote (won’t happen,) I’ll gladly vote for CG again[!]
    Comment by Shawn Paulson— 1/5/05 @ 1:14 am”

    I find your “intelligent consevatives” comment unbecoming of intelligent conservatives. Mainly because you fail on both counts. Though perhaps my context is wrong…

    ‘marks’ is used to differentiate between the many ‘Mark’s on this blog.

  16. 18

    Shawn Paulson spews:

    I never said I was a conservative; but enough about me. Show the illegal votes CG received, or show the legal basis for aportioning errors in the election process.

  17. 20


    Micajah @ 8:

    If King County didn’t do an election night reconciliation and turned the paperwork over to the Secretary of State, there would be no legal way for the election to be certified, under Washington State Law.

    It’s bizarre to me that this is even a topic. Is there some sort of evidence floating around that the Secretary of State isn’t capable of following Washington Election Law? Or is this just typical “throw crap against the wall and see if it sticks” GOP shit stirring?

  18. 21

    marks spews:

    Shawn –

    :) I would give you a pass, but…

    Honestly, I have no idea how it will turn out. I have my own opinion, as do you…

  19. 22

    marks spews:

    Damn, carla. I know you have been working hard, but until I see some actual election night data (besides Dino winning by 241 votes), I just have to shunt this stuff to the side and wish for a real microbrew…

  20. 23

    RDC spews:


    Although this doesn’t pertain to this topic (or does it?), I had the great pleasure last evening of hearing Fit the Sixth recited, at an Orchestra Seattle concert. With some shame I confess I was unfamiliar with this very witty work of Lewis Carroll, but now know what a near perfect fit is the term “Snark” for the SP honcho.

  21. 24

    reggie spews:

    Don’t ya think it’s kinda wierd that the LIBERAL biased media doesn’t want this story to go away? I also find it interesting that the paper that endorsed Dino is the one doing all of the stories about the election almost four months after the fact.

    It was a good article but Robert Mak did the same story for NW cable news about a month ago. Mr Mak interviewed Sam Reed and Dean Logan and got them both to admit that they couldn’t tell for certain who won the election. Adding more fuel to the debate about the election.

    The other fuel that is getting added to the fire is by Chrissy. Remember after she was sworn in she said she was going to go on a tour of the state “to heal’ the state after the problems with the election? That hasn’t happened. In fact in one of the more intelligent things she has done in recent memory is to shut the hell up. Let Dino make all of the missteps and keep clam. No one is yelling about her being in office….they are just yelling about the election. …You can even see it on this blog. No one is attacking chrissy anymore. It’s attacking the election or Dino. Dino could learn from Chrissy on this one.

    Okay that’s just my thoughts on this…I could be all wet…but then again i voted for Bush too. (I could’ve voted for Lieberman….but not Kerry)

  22. 25

    chardonnay spews:

    crissy did try her healing tour, in vancouver, she was greated by orange protesters.
    Another travel experience in Spokane to Fairchild AF Base with 1st man Mike, ex employee @ AGO. I heard she was greated again by the orange protesters. Still searching for that proof tho.
    I do have the article from the AP. Feb 11th 2005.

  23. 26

    Ranger spews:

    Carla @20

    So, your entire argument that the certification was done properly is that it was done. No government official would ever break the rules or law, so no worries. Unfortunatly, the world doesn’t work like that:


    On January 5, EFF requested a copy of each county’s certified abstract of the recount in accordance with WAC 434-262-080. The documents provided in response were received January 11. The information was available on January 7, but EFF staff were informed that an attorney had to review it first. This legal review apparently occurred around 3 p.m. on January 11, after the legislature had certified the gubernatorial election.

    Not provided, however, was the “written narrative documenting errors and discrepancies discovered and corrective action taken.” The Secretary of State says no written narratives have been provided by the counties which means one of two things: 1) counties are in violation of WAC 434-262-080, or 2) no “errors and discrepancies” or “corrective action” occurred.

    Among the records that were provided:

    1. Clark County – No sworn affidavit was provided. The county also did not provide the total number of active registered voters in all precincts; total of inactive; total number of all registered voters and the total votes cast.

    2. Garfield County – No sworn affidavit was provided. The county also did not provide the total number of active registered voters in all precincts; total of inactive; total number of all registered voters and the total votes cast.

    3. King County – No sworn affidavit was provided. The county also did not provide the total number of active registered voters in all precincts; total of inactive; total number of all registered voters and the total votes cast.

  24. 27

    Chee spews:

    Got to say..your the BEST. Good header article. Polls are a diddly-squat indicator manipulated by a pollster-geist. Back to my Morning Mu Tea!

  25. 28

    zapporo spews:

    Implicit in every posting, is the morbid fear that, were the election held today, Dino Rossi would trump CG in a most laughable manner. His leadership skills, humility, and infallibly positive attitude are genuine and will make him an excellent governor. Honestly, does anyone here see CG as upbeat and energetic? Able to cut government waste and create new jobs? How about charismatic? I thought so.

  26. 29

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    When you talk with Bobbie Egan tomorrow, ask her a couple questions for me:
    1) Were any of these pollbooks altered by anyone after the pollworkers signed and attested to them on election night? If so, provide a list of ALL alterations.
    2) Can Ms. Egan provide a list of actual voters that reconciles with the ballots counted?
    3) Provide you with the “written narrative documenting errors and discrepancies discovered (FOR EACH PRECINDT) and corrective actions taken.
    4) Did KingCo Elections violate WAC 434-262-080?

    Ranger–excellent post.
    Micajah–If Election Officials neglected to follow the law and do these required reconciliations….it would be impossible to know who won this election (as Logan pointed out). Perhaps Logan’s policies and procedures were not followed….but they were not detected because of a lack of internal audit steps. For Logan to say that all controls were followed with 100% accuracy UPFRONT, therefore there are no illegitmate ballots counted or ballots missing is laughable. Logan knows darn well you MUST have internal controls & audit procedures to make sure these policies and procedures have been followed.
    LOGAN’s BLIND FAITH===Sloppy Election

  27. 30

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Also, remember Logan tried to explain away the VOTERLESS VOTES by trying to convince us that many voters voted but failed to sign the pollbook. Does that sound like his UPFRONT controls are 100% perfect?????
    IF this happened, it should show up on each PRECINDT reconciliation!!!!!! Signed and attested to by the pollworkers before they sent the ballots to be counted.

  28. 31

    Jeff B. spews:


    What this ignores is that although our law is written such that we end with a third recount, that does not mean that we have to accept the outcome in an election where even you admit that the discrepancy and error is problematic for the margin of victory. We can choose to do the right thing instead of just living with a result that we all agree is indeterminate.

    For many of us who are more moderate about this whole debacle, the issue is not so much that we want Rossi to win, but that we are frustrated with a system that has failed us.

    Now on the left, your obviously partisan response is: results stand, let’s sort-of-kind-of-in-a-very-milquetoast-way propose some very minor reforms that will fix the elections for next time. On the other side, we see it differently. One, there’s no reason we all have to accept such and innacurate result that divides the state. Hence the contest, which hopefully will go forward so that we can have a clear winner that governs without having their legitimacy of holding office doubted for the entire four years. Two, we want real and meaningful reform to assure that this does not happen again.

    The reason why all you Dems are so disingenuous is that you are not calling for any sort of address of the problem. Instead of being for another election as Rossi is, even if he wins, Gregoire is for just standing pat since she is in office. That galls the reasonable. But what galls the reasonable even more is the lame reforms being proposed by your legislators. If nothing else, you have to admit that Gregoire has managed the PR on this so poorly as to all but assure suspicion. And you’ve been one of the most outspoken to just tow the line which is really hurting Gregoire. Self destruction is very Democrat.

    If you guys all want to appear serious, in fact a great way to elevate this blog above “just another liberal blog towing the party line” would be to call for meanining full reform within your own Democratic legislators. That might even undo some of the damage to Greogire given the close election and leave the state at rest if the contest fails.

    As long as you maintain the “sorry we one fair and square, try again next time within our Election System since we are the ones in office” attitude, you will further Greogire’s illegitimacy.

  29. 32

    Don spews:

    zapporo @ 28

    Yep, Rossi has it all — except actual qualifications for the job. The sum total of his management experience consists of supervising 1 part-time janitor for a short time when he was in college. Unflaggingly loyal to those who line his pockets, he went back to work for his crooked boss who cheated widows and old folks as soon as the latter was released from prison. As a state senator, he voted AGAINST health care for kids and voted FOR slapping a bed tax on old folks in nursing homes. This is someone you think should be our state’s governor??? It’s amazing Rossi got even 10% of the votes. Shows the power of propaganda, I guess. Or the severity of the collapse of our state’s mental health system.

  30. 33

    Don spews:

    Jeff B. @ 31

    “Instead of being for another election as Rossi is”

    What do you think Rossi’s position would be if he won the hand recount and the Dems were contesting? The guy is pure opportunist. He’s already changed his tune a number of times.

  31. 34

    John spews:


    You are one bitter, sorry partisan. If the circumstances were exactly reversed you wouldn’t be crying to say the least.

    Only if the democrats had been at the short end we would have moved on unless fraud was clearly evident. You guys, on the other hand, have no qualms about waging a scorched earth legal campaign.

    You guys have finally dropped the orange and the fraud (almost). Now your mantra is “negligence”. Elections are run by the government, staffed by volunteers and scrutinized at every step by all parties – 0.2% off is good enough for government work IMHO.

    We all learned a lot from this contest and we’re not opposed to reasonable election reforms. You say you want “meaningful” reforms, yet from your comment there are no details.

    Do you know how to link? Put up or shut up.

    I suggest you drop the bitterness and hateful ranting on blogs. Channel that energy into getting out the vote for your candidates and issues – including election reform. Rossi lost this contest because he didn’t get enough support when it counted – period.

  32. 35

    Don spews:

    John @ 34

    What I heard from the Orangies at the Election Reform Task Force’s public hearing strongly indicates that doing away with absentee voting is at the top of their list of “meaningful reforms.”

  33. 36

    zapporo spews:

    Don @32 – Ok, the whole world is watching. Show us the links to the impartial third-party news source that will confirm everything you’ve said. Everyone is waiting. (And waiting, and waiting…) Dino is a centrist bipartisan leader with integrity. He is someone that can work with democrats and repubilcans alike. Dino will make one hell of a great Governor. You and I both know that what you wrote is pure mendacity and distortion. So bring it on Donny Boy!

  34. 38

    marks spews:

    John @ 37

    Says Thomas, “He went into politics an ideologue, but he came out a statesman.”

    Your article has a lot of allegations from people whom I would expect to hold a grudge. Including some former republicans/now democrats. Face it that was propaganda. Properly phrased, I would call it a hit-piece. When a person runs a campaign for office, toes will get stepped on. IMO, of course…

    Now, if you could dig up some good dirt from Rossi’s gardener…or find something under/over his maid’s bed…then we would have a different story…

    Oh, he doesn’t have either a gardener or a maid? That would be a real shame, if true…

  35. 39

    John spews:

    Propaganda? From a current Republican who stated on the record:

    I don’t like to associate with people of that character… The man is dishonest.

    Four Republican opponents of Rossi who declined to endorse him for his Senate seat?

    BIAW-endorsed, anti-choice, supports the teaching of creationism in the public schools, poor record on the environment – out of the mainstream. A poor choice for governor.

  36. 41

    Don spews:

    zapporo @ 37

    What’s the matter, don’t you ever read a newspaper? It was all reported in the Seattle Times.

  37. 42

    zapporo spews:

    Don @41, John @37

    Where’s the beef? Really, Where’s the beef? No Seattle Times links? No real proof for the bed tax smear? Against health care for kids? Come on. Rossi came from a humble background, worked his way through college, has had a sucessful career, and while serving his constituency, provided the leadership in 2003 to deliver a balanced bipartisan budget with no new taxes. Now that’s leadership. That’s reaching across the aisles. Let’s take this to a different level. If you can’t back up Rossi smears, then why don’t you show everyone here why Christine Gregiore would be a great governor? I swear every time I have seen her on tv she looks positively unhappy and that’s the nicest way that I can put that.

  38. 43

    Chee spews:

    The fearless leader, heads above, of this here blog site made an interesting discovery by his asking if Rossi had requested a particular discovery. Reply was a no. Just a reporter had requested that. Rossi camp does not want to ask the elections department for more information? The less case stuff they actually request, the less they have to reveal to the Democrats. Then there is the possibility they could send in someone else; subliminally peek behind the curtains. Rossi camp wants to first know up front what they have to prove before they dredge. If they drain the pool too soon, they will have to cough up early on. Rossi is playing the game of cat and mouse at all of our expense. Pretty cheesy.

  39. 44

    Don spews:

    zapporo @ 42

    Why should I do your homework for you? Can’t you type “Rossi bed tax” into your search function? If you’re having trouble getting any results, maybe it’s your spelling. Try:


    This should work. If it doesn’t, ask your kid to help you.

  40. 45

    zapporo spews:

    Don @44 – Hahahahahaha. That’s good. Really good. We both knew that your accusations against Dino were pretty much political spin. I just wanted to see if you would back them up. And of course, you so graciously declined. So, ok, I’ll do you a favor. He’s the one picture that I’ve seen that doesn’t hint at grossly uncomfortable constipation or some other painful ailment: . Now look at any other post-election photographs. It’s just like Tanya Harding after her boyfriend wacked Nancy. Come on, you know it’s true. Just say it. Admit it. We all know you’re laughing right now.

  41. 47

    Chee spews:

    Seattle Times is a political machine. A meatgrinder, geared and earmarked Republican. There is no question that the reporting on the Rossi hearings differs from the actual heard via attendance or by transcript. If you like doctored music, buy in. If you prefer facts, shop elsewhere.

  42. 48

    John spews:

    marks @ 40

    King County Journal? The editorial page that features the fair and balanced commentary of Neocon Michael Medved and pompous governor-wannabe John Carlson?


  43. 49

    John spews:


    she looks positively unhappy

    This crazy election would be enough to make anyone unhappy and that includes Dino. We haven’t seen very much of him lately, have we?

    Look I’ve worked for Real Estate operators. I don’t want one in the Governor’s mansion. You don’t keep them at bay and they walk over everything. Just look at Southern California. Dino’s real estate career and his ties to the BIAW were enough for me.

    No Thanks.

  44. 50

    Martin Ringhofer spews:

    Great exchange on the election.

    Who is Micajah?

    It’s easy to criticise under a veil of annonimity.

    Why don’t you all come out from behind the veil of a secret identity?