One of the primary recommendations of the Independent Task Force on Elections appointed earlier this year by King County Executive Ron Sims was the creation of an outside “turnaround team” to evaluate and, if necessary, shakeup management of the elections department. In following through on his promise to follow the task force’s recommendation, Sims has chosen a contractor and requested $1.35 million from the council.
But now, as the council balks at appropriating the money, it’s own independent Citizen’s Election Oversight Committee is recommending against hiring a turnaround team at all.
Several members of the Citizens’ Election Oversight Committee, reconvened by the County Council after errors in the 2004 election, said Tuesday that the elections division has made great strides in improving the elections process.
But League of Women Voters representative Joan Thomas said a turnaround team could end up “turning around every bit of progress we’ve made, and starting all over again.”
The county virtually eliminated the mishandling of provisional ballots and dramatically improved its ballot accounting in the November election.
“It’s too late” for a turnaround team, committee chairman A.J. Culver said.
While administration insiders have previously assured me that Sims fully intends to follow the Task Force’s advice, and that Dean Logan’s fate would eventually be determined by the turnaround team’s recommendations, there has also been some internal debate over whether the turnaround team might disrupt the reforms already underway. The general administration consensus is that procedural improvements within elections have already been dramatic — an evaluation strongly echoed by the Citizens Oversight Committee — but that the turnaround team could be useful in recognizing and fixing the “cultural” and management issues that have long afflicted the department. Sims and his staff have also considered the turnaround team a necessary step towards restoring public faith in the system.
In telling the Seattle Times that Sims welcomed the council’s thoughts on a turnaround team, administration spokesman Sandeep Kaushik didn’t so much backpedal as he did leave the door open to reconsideration.
“We did make a commitment to the task force, which is the group that Executive Sims created, to implement this turnaround-team idea. That remains our position at this point.”
Well, at this point, the Council won’t be ready to vote on appropriating funds for the turnaround team until they reconvene in January… right around the time the Task Force is scheduled to reconvene as well. Considering how much is at stake both in terms of money and in continuing the successful transformation that is already occurring in the elections department, the first task before the Task Force should be to reevaluate their turnaround team recommendation in light of the improvements that have already been made.
After successful primary and general elections, the Citizens Oversight Committee seems downright enthusiastic about the improvements they have seen, while council members on both sides of the aisle seem to be questioning whether a turnaround team is still necessary. If the Task Force publicly agrees and drops this recommendation, it will save taxpayers $1.35 million, while further shoring up public faith in the system.
I’m not suggesting that just because KC elections has managed to run a couple of smooth elections, all the endemic cultural issues have been solved… but there are less dramatic and costly remedies. A management consultant could be brought in to review operations and make recommendations. Or perhaps State Auditor Brian Sonntag might be invited to come in and conduct one of those much-ballyhooed performance audits… on the state’s dime.
In any case, I think it’s time for everyone to stop viewing KC elections through the prism of the hyperbolic election contest controversy, and start evaluating it based on its recent performance. We may discover that a turnaround team is a solution in search of a problem that no longer exists.
Sorry Goldy, but the 2004 election will be an issue for years to come. The finding of new votes with the re-counts put King County in a very unfavorable light in many people’s minds.
It’s similar to the strife that developed in florida in the 2000 presidential elections, and it’s just as bitter.
Mr. Cynical spews:
Just so you CLOWNS know I can share a good laugh at anyone’s expense, read this:
“Three Texas surgeons were playing golf together and discussing surgeries they had performed.
One of them said, “I’m the best surgeon in Texas. A concert pianist lost 7 fingers in an accident, I reattached them, and 8 months later he performed a private concert for the Queen of England.”
One of the others said. “That’s nothing. A young man lost both arms and legs in an accident, I reattached them, and 2 years later he won a gold medal in field events in the Olympics.”
The third surgeon said, “You guys are amateurs. Several years ago a cowboy who was high on cocaine and alcohol rode a horse head-on into a train traveling 80 miles an hour. All I had left to work with was the horse’s ass and a cowboy hat. Now he’s president of the United States.”
There’s no problem in Chicago elections department either. At least the Daley machine doesn’t insult everybody’s intelligence by pretending to have honest elections in a one-party county. Their “turnaround team” turned things around in the mid 1950’s and everything has been just fine ever since!
Yeah… a lot of good it did you in 2005.
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah….
Wah wah wah, bunch of complainers. Shut the fuck up.
lib@1 you’re right, but for the wrong reasons
the 2004 election will be ‘news’ for as long as the Republicans think they can get use out of it. They don’t give a damn about fixing the election system, but just want to gain some votes. Reading these threads, you get the feeling that alof of the rightie trolls want there to have been fraud.
Voter Advocate spews:
Since the price tag on the turnaround team boondoggle is now $1.8M, it’s time to get serious and spend that money where it is needed — a permanent facility large enough to house all of KC Elections.
A big cause for the screw-up on 2004 was the inadequate Mail Ballot Operations Satellite (MBOS), which still had an effect in this years primary. Moving MBOS, with the exception of the tabulators, to the East Marginal Way facility got those functions closer to a good situation, and that will be better if all of MBOS gets put there.
Sorry Gody, but I don’t understand your comment.
I think it must remain an issue in peoples minds to make sure we prevent it from happening.
The 2005 election was better, but there is convincing proof it still had flaws and needs improvement.
Voter Advocate spews:
Didn’t you see the results of the election?
Ron Sims still Executive
Democratic majority on KC council
Defeats of 912, 330
Roger Rabbit spews:
“Sorry Goldy, but the 2004 election will be an issue for years to come.”
It’s over. You lost. If you can’t move on, see a shrink.
Yes Roger, it will be an issue for years to come. Just like the 2000 presidential election was and is.
Ya know, the big problem with all of you here is that you’re all true believers. Whenever someone doesn’t mimic the party line, you attack the speaker. Got a problem with people who may not necessarily agree with your mindset? Take Roger’s advice: see a shrink.
good point. I wont point any fingers here, but look at folks like Mike Webb who cannot let the 2000 election go.
Well, we could just make believe that everything is fixed because you say so, Mr. Goldstein. Unfortunately, I was there for six weeks in 2004. Between what I saw that went on there with the upper echelons in King County Elections Office, who are still drawing a government paycheck, and from what I hear from those still intimately involved in this process on the CEOC and elsewhere…I’ll stick with my belief that things still need to be ironed out down there on Fourth Ave.
Fortunately, what’s written here doesn’t matter or influence what goes on when the grownups get together and talk.
No turnaround team is needed. Logan et al have since covered their tracks and Sims will blanket wrap the whole fraud package ’til next time it’s needed.
Daddy Love spews:
You and Goldy seem to disagree about what people on the CEOC think. Why is that?
Daddy Love spews:
Your comments would be more interesting if the GOP and their millions of dollars spent had managed to uncover any fraud OUTSIDE of your head.
by Goldy, 12/14/2005, 2:03 PM
“In any case, I think it’s time for everyone to stop viewing KC elections through the prism of the hyperbolic election contest controversy, and start evaluating it based on its recent performance. We may discover that a turnaround team is a solution in search of a problem that no longer exists.”
Total votes cast in the 2005 KC Executive race: 528,167
Total votes cast in the 2004 WA Governor’s race: 875,268
KCRE had 350,000 less votes to count in the 2005 election, or a 40% reduction from 2004. I’m not sure how you can conclude everything is fine and dandy at KCRE using an off year election to measure performance in comparison to a Presidential election year, that included a closely fought governor’s race. Sounds like a lot of handwaving on your part Goldy.
Per the “government by consent of the people”, and all that, we should all work towards ensuring the maximum number of participants have faith in our elections. This is a non-partisan issue. Elections must be open, fair, and verifiable. Any member of the public has a right to challenge the elections. There is no requirement to prove fraud. Rather, the government must prove that everything is legit.
Of course KC had problems, especially in 2004. Yes, things have gotten better.
However, personally, I think things are about to get much worse with broader adoption of electronic voting and new electronic counting gear. Witness Snohomish County in 2004. Most people don’t yet realize that King Co has (or is about to) bought 650 Diebold AccuVote TSx machines for $5m, using HAVA as the justification.
With the state and most of the counties pushing 100% vote by mail, I expect things to get even worse still. For everyone.