4204 Passing, King County Gets the Blame


One of the problems that is exacerbated by going to Vote-By Mail in Washington State is how the big counties are being blamed for close elections “flipping”. In the case of 4204, the simple majority initiative for passing school levies, most of the conservative eastern counties voted against the measure, while King County (the largest voter block in the state) is passing the initiative by 60%.  The numbers of voters in King County is like a really fat kid on a teeter toter, you can put lots of kids little skinny kids on the other side, but that fat kid’s gonna be pretty hard to get off the ground.

The other other thing is that it takes a lot longer to count the votes in King County because, well, there’s so many voters. So while Grant County has 1490 registered voters, King County has 994,798. Obviously that’s about a 1000 times more complex. And it takes longer to count that many votes.

In fact only 8 counties have over 100,000 voters: Whatcom, Thurston, Spokane, Snohomish, Pierce, Kitsap, King, and Clark. Many have under 50,000, and quite a few have only 1,000 to 10,000 voters total.

What this means is that when you start hearing vote totals come in, the little (and mostly conservative) counties, post their totals early. Then the media reports that some measure is passing by some large percentage, and the process continues to snowball until the large counties start reporting. And those large counties are so large that they tip the scale.

Of course they should tip the scale, and of course whatever the issue was, whether it was the Governor’s race or 4204, it looks bad. Because the laymen voter has been told repeatively for weeks on end that someone, or some issue, was in the lead…. and that turns out to be false. People then get pissed. They start accusing King County of rigging elections, and everyone in those other counties start feeling like those darn liberals in King County are in on some big conspiracy.

But the reality is much simpler. The media was distorting the truth. 4204 was NEVER losing. Once the ballots were cast, the decision was made. The percentages were the only thing unknown. And anyone with a little knowledge of the system has long ago stopped listening to the media, and waits until every county is done counting the votes.

I’m the last person that will defend the King County Elections department. But the fact is, that they aren’t rigging the vote just because they take longer to count the half a million votes they might receive in any given election.

Of course, Vote-by Mail, by slowing the whole system down further only makes matters worse. Yesterday, November 14th, 8 days after the election was over, 19, 872 more ballots came in the mail and were added to King Counties total. That’s more than the total turnout to-date (November 15th) so far in the following counties:

  1. Adams                 3,279
  2. Asotin                  6,365
  3. Chelan               19,040
  4. Columbia             1,600
  5. Douglas                9,053
  6. Ferry                    2,282
  7. Franklin               8,594
  8. Garfield                1,029
  9. Grant                  16,253
  10. Grays Harbor    18,688
  11. Jefferson            12,964
  12. Kittitas               10,379
  13. Klickitat               6,504
  14. Lincoln                 4,304
  15. Mason                 18,447
  16. Okanogan             8,351
  17. Pacific                   7,307
  18. Pend Orielle        4,475
  19. San Juan              6,583
  20. Skamania             3,137
  21. Stevens              14,447
  22. Wahkiakum         1,780
  23. Walla Walla       14,056
  24. Whitman              9,987



4 Responses

  1. One problem with vote-by-mail in Washington is that ballots need only be postmarked on the election date. We used to live in Oregon, where the vote-by-mail ballots were required to be in the Elections Dept on election day. Postmarks didn’t count. Perhaps if we did this as well, it would speed up the final results getting out.

  2. Yes, but as you may know, mail sometimes gets misplaced by the post office and then shows up 14 months later.


    It really undermines the original intent of absentee ballots, if everyone has to call and check to see if their ballot is received. I agree that Oregon’s version is faster to count, but both systems will inherently disenfranchise more voters that have tried to vote than poll site voting will.

  3. Hi again. AL Kolwitz in Colorado is fighting the forced Vote By Mail Scheme, and I wanted to make sure you saw his press release
    (just in case):

    Colorado Voter Group wants polling place elections with a few adjustments. Group concerned that back room deals will trade accuracy for convenience.

    November 19, 2007

    County clerks have been pushing Colorado legislators to adopt all-mail elections for the 2008 elections. There is a superior alternative.

    Colorado Voter Group responds to clerks.

    Click to read Colorado Voter Group answers county clerk’s challenge to the 2008 election framework.

    “All-mail vs. polling place – The framework identifies nine (9) known problems with all-mail elections. Polling place elections are accepted by Colorado voters; all-mail Presidential elections were voted down in November 2002; results statewide were about the same as your 2006 election as Clerk. Polling places control illegal electioneering and thwart vote buying/selling and voter intimidation; all-mail elections cannot. Ballots voted in polling places are not packaged with the voter’s identity; all-mail ballots are. In polling places, only an eligible elector is issued a ballot; mail ballots are bulk mailed indiscriminately. In polling places, only an eligible elector can vote a ballot; nobody knows who voted a mail ballot. Polling places have rigorous control over the ballots; it is not possible to rigorously control mail-in ballots….”

    full press release here –

    Click to access Colorado%202008%20Elections%20-%20Framework.pdf

    (Good luck in the good fight)

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