Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Rossi-Murray Update

Although Patty Murray *spit* is still ahead, by 14,000 votes at the moment, the count in the Washington U. S. Senate is far from over, largely because of its mail-in system – a method that is asking for vote fraud. But anyway, here is the best explanation I’ve seen of where things stand, even if it is a few hours old:

With 65 percent of “precincts reporting” (nearly all voting is done by mail), Sen. Patty Murray (D) and Dino Rossi (R) are neck and neck:
Murray: 721,742 (50 percent)
Rossi: 707,481 (50 percent)

The remainder of the ballots will be counted in the next several days, but there’s no telling how long it might be before we get an official result. State law mandates a recount if the margin between candidates is less than 2,000 votes.

According to the Secretary of State, there are more than 508,000 remaining ballots to be counted. Exit polling appears to favor Murray slightly; she trails Rossi among independent voters by just eight points, which is less than what a number of pre-election polls had shown. However, the Seattle-area of King County, where Murray draws most of her support, only has 27 percent of the remaining ballots to be counted, according to County Election reports, even though King County accounts for 31 percent of all registered voters in the state. This could bode well for Rossi, as he leads confortably in most other parts of the state.

Yes, I was mistaken last night in saying King County was in.

Also, Buck is narrowly behind in Colorado again with 87.7% of the precincts reporting. I got happy too soon on that one.


Bob Chapman said...

Mark, don't make comments about voting systems you don't know or understand. In Washington State, the poll workers cannot open the envelope with a ballot until everyone (paid worker, judge from each major party) is happy with the signature on the outer return envelope. For me, that was the envelope addressed to my county auditor.

With you ballot in the secrecy envelope, no one knows how you voted when the outer envelope was opened. The secrecy envelope is opened in a place away from the outer envelope.

If there are questions about your signature, the unopened envelope is set aside. If you added a telephone number to the outer envelope (optional), you will be called to ID the envelope and prove it is your signature on it (or say it wasn't).

When counting, the major parties see the results of each individual batch. It is recorded which scanner counted each batch, and which machine counted the votes. When the Republican Party in my county one year noted a larger than expected "undervote" from batches run on one specific scanner for a legislative position, it was easy to check the batches again using other equipment to find out the scanner was missing votes from BOTH major party candidates equally.

If you check Google, you will find out that the only county in Washington that has occasional problems with voting is the only county that still has standard polling places: Pierce County (Tacoma). Even in Pierce County, though, over 60% vote by absentee.

All counties provide voting machines for those people with challenges using a printed ballot or just can't stand using an absentee ballot.

When Washington State counties optionally converted to all mail-in voting, there were no sudden shifts in voting. The only thing that happened in Washington (county optional all mail-in) and Oregon (all mail-in) with a switch was a consistently higher participation rate. (Yes, there were high participation rate years before, but it wasn't consistent.)

Over 70% turnout in this off-year is a pretty good participation rate, wouldn't you say?

Mark said...

Thanks for the explanation, Bob. But my main problem with a mail-in system is how the ballots get to their destination in the first place.

As a former election judge, I can tell you that absentees and mail-ins open wide the door to coerced votes. There is certainly a place for mail-ins, but to make an election mostly mail-in?

But being a past election judge, I am picky. I don't like electronic voting without a paper ballot either.

Having said all that, I have no complaints about Murray's victory being legit as much as I detest the result itself.


Bob Chapman said...

The biggest complaint against moving to mail-in ballots wasn't the _possibility_ of a coerced vote. It was paying someone to vote a specific way. As in, show up with a blank ballot, mark it in front of someone, sign and seal it, give the ready-to-mail ballot to someone in return for money, then the someone mails the ballot for you (or drops it off at a secure location for you).

The person I heard this from the most was the former director of elections in my county. He was defending the use of a certain brand of electronic voting machines he recommended purchasing.

Right after Snohomish County realized how much money they would save with all mail-in vote (no renting of polling places, storage costs for the electronic machines, etc.), the county made the switch over the objections from this person.

Also, he left almost immediately to run elections for a California county that used the machines he supported. I do not know if there was a direct connection, except for the fact he had experience with that type of machine.

As to paying for the vote, you would need to pay a substantial number of people to assure the desired result. Also, these people would need to be well distributed through the entire universe of people voting. (Remember the example of Republican catching the undervote in certain precincts by looking at the election results.)

That is, if Everett 27 (my precinct) had 95% of the voters for Patty Murray, there would first be an investigation on whether I did something to "unduly" influence voters (as I am the Democratic precinct committee officer for Everett 27). It would move on to finding out if someone or some group paid voters in my precinct to vote.

My guess would be that if everyone kept their mouth shut on such a scheme, they were already going to vote for Murray. Someone is going to talk to a relative or friend, or at least someone's kid is going to talk.

I'm not saying no one would try such a scheme to buy an election for Murray or Rossi. I am saying that such a scheme would have to be so widespread across the state as to make it impossible to keep it secret.

After all, someone found the ex-con in eastern Washington that wasn't supposed to vote six years ago.

Sometimes you have to trust that human nature is so flawed and fallen so to make detection of vote buying schemes nearly impossible to pull off.

Mark said...

Bob, sorry I was slow to post your comment. I didn't check my e-mail much yesterday.

When I say "coerced vote," I certainly include vote-buying as well as raiding nursing homes, those who are mentally disabled for various reasons, etc.

I do appreciate your input. Reasoned input from the forces of e-- I mean, from the other side is most welcome. ;^)


Mark said...

I should add that I find the regional history you set forth interesting.