December 28, 2004
Count every voter
I've now sent Public Disclosure Requests to the elections departments of King, Snohomish and San Juan counties asking for the following information:
a list of all X County voters who submitted ballots in the Nov. 2, 2004 election. This list should include at least the following data items for each voter, as of the day of the election:
* first, last and middle names
* residence address
* mailing address
* date of registration
* date of birth
* type of ballot submitted, (e.g. Polling Place, Absentee, Provisional)
* an indication whether the ballot was accepted or rejected
In addition, I asked King County for the names and voter ids of the final 723/735 magical mystery voters and an indication of which of them had their ballots accepted by the canvassing board and which rejected. I also asked for the list of name and voter ids of the 20 or so voters whose ballots that were discovered in ballot boxes, along with the precincts and polling places where the ballots were found.
Snohomish County replied and promises me the data on Wednesday at 1pm. They agree to provide all of the requested data but not the birth dates. This is unfortunate, according to my read of elections law, RCW 29A.08.125 and RCW 29A.08.720, a voter's birth date is public information. This information also serves the essential public purpose of identifying voters in whose names illegal ballots were cast. Should a judge finds Snohomish County in violation of the Public Disclosure Act, the fine could be $5 - $100 per voter record per day that the information is withheld. If you live in Snohomish County, you might want to contact your Auditor's office and request that he release all of the public information pertaining to this election that he is required by law to release.
Snohomish County is also acting funny about the way they are willing to deliver the information. They are willing to give me a choice of:
(a) a CD ROM containing a tab-delimited file
(b) an email containing a PDF file.
A PDF file containing this much data is useless. A tab-delimited file is the appropriate type of file and e-mail delivery would spare me the extra cost and time of having to obtain the CD. Oddly, they are unwilling to send me a tab-delimited file by email even though I stated it in my request as my preferred form of delivery and even though it is no extra burden for them. They won't give me a logical explanation why they won't email a tab-delimited file. They're simply imposing an arbitrary inconvenience on me for no legitimate reason. Government customer service at its finest.
UPDATE: As Richard Pope mentions in the comments and as the Snohomish County Auditor's Office asserts, RCW 29A.08.710 prohibits disclosure of birth dates. That's too bad. Having access to birth dates would make it easier to identify fraud. The office also wrote me:
Regarding your request for reconsideration of delivery mechanisms of the requested information, I have conferred with appropriate personnel and have been instructed to continue delivery of records in the format in which delivery has already been established.
Tab-delimited format is available via CD which can picked up by the requester or mailed. Electronic transmission of the records is available in PDF format only.
San Juan County, on the other hand, offered to e-mail me the data in an Excel spreadsheet.
For whatever reason, the Snohomish County Auditor thinks it's his duty to act a petty, snot-nosed jerk.
Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at December 28, 2004
12:27 PM | Email This
shark, request that they provide it encrypted using PGP encryption.
you know how to get ahold of me, I can get you going with it.
2. Keep on keepin' on.
PGP should not be an issue unless it is supposed to be secure information. This is all public info. Someone could hack and steal the PDF as easy as the tab-delimited.
They just don't want you to be able to PROCESS the information immediately.
4. It could be something as simple as attachment file size limitations, perhaps?
5. Having worked in IT for HR for a major multinational company, and having to coordinate file between other companies (for instance, counting cards for the annual United Way drive), I can say it is probably not any sort of conspiracy just incompetance. The people you are interacting with are not the ones creating the file, just repeating what they are given by whatever group that this job has been outsourced to.
Stefan, try reading RCW 29A.08.710. This would suggest that date of birth is *NOT* to be included in the information released to the public. This is unfortunate.
Originals and automated files. (Effective until January 1, 2006.)
(1) The county auditor shall have custody of the voter registration records for each county. The original voter registration form must be filed without regard to precinct and is considered confidential and unavailable for public inspection and copying. An automated file of all registered voters must be maintained pursuant to RCW 29A.08.125. An auditor may maintain the automated file in lieu of filing or maintaining the original voter registration forms if the automated file includes all of the information from the original voter registration forms including, but not limited to, a retrievable facsimile of each voter's signature.
(2) The following information contained in voter registration records or files regarding a voter or a group of voters is available for public inspection and copying: The voter's name, gender, voting record, date of registration, and registration number. The address and political jurisdiction of a registered voter are available for public inspection and copying except as provided by chapter 40.24 RCW. No other information from voter registration records or files is available for public inspection or copying.
Attachment size was not given as a reason.
A PDF file would in fact be larger than plain text.
I doubt it has anything to do with file size for the attachment, as a PDF with that much data would be about the same size as a tab delimited file. Though I would venture to guess that a tab delimited file could be compressed to a smaller size using some ZIP tool, since it doesn't have the additional overhead of the PDF formatting.
Bottom line, they are pulling his chain.
They have to run the tab delimited file through a processor to produce the pdf, running it through a free zip archiver would not be any different, probably easier in some ways.
I also asked for this info, I would like to stuff it all into a db and run some queries.
We will see what they say to me, I also included a couple of other counties just to see what their response is.
According to today's Times article, it sounds like Rossi is waiting to decide on whether to challenge the election. Do you guys think he will challenge? Or will he take wait two years and kick Cantwell's ass? If the GOP puts up a legitimate candidate against Gregoire in four years, I don't think there is any doubt that they will win. The Dems that I have spoken with are already fed up with Gregoire.
The Times is trying to persuade Rossi not to challenge. Liberal newspapers always try to discourage Republicans by creating the false impression that what the paper says reflects public opinion. But it doesn't.
However, I believe Rossi will sue, and he must--the sooner the better. Otherwise, Washington will be the new high-tax backwater of America, replacing godforsaken Rhode Island.
I believe this may help in converting from PDF to text format.
There are also numerous other such services or programs available if you google for it.
13. I can tell you exactly why they want to provide the data in the two formats suggested. They don't trust you. As a practicing engineer in a former life, we always provided documents or data in PDF precisely because it couldn't be changed (not without a lot of work). The other option is to burn it onto a write once disc and close the disc. That way if you start claiming the data says something it doesn't, they can ask to see the original disc they sent you, which would be unchanged. Obviously, there are ways around these limitations; the data can always be forged. However, this form of document control makes it more difficult and also makes it easier to catch if the data you were manipulating was inadvertently changed in the process.
14. And then there's the more obvious reason. They are just stalling because the burden of proof is on the Republicans.
Quick question: why didn't you ask to see the records from Pierce County? The percentage change there between the machine recount and the manual recount was more than twice that of King County.
Stefan, you should also get the computer file of the manual recount election results, and do a precinct analysis of changes in ballot count -- before and after the effect of the 566 misplaced ballots that were counted. I am curious about where the other 59 ballots came from, and whether they are all increases, or the net result of increases and decreases. Of course, you need to figure out who the 566 known new ballots came from, before any meaningful analysis can be done about the 59 (net?) unknown new ballots.
And thanks to Caleb White for answering the security question. I have always wondering the same thing myself, in different contexts.
I haven't read the Times article, but I think Dino should challenge it. I don't get the feeling that people want him to just go away. I think they see that something is clearly wrong, since more of them think he won. If it is just shoved under the rug, WA residents will just be left hanging. I believe 2/3 of WA want to see justice done and have not gotten that, yet.
Besides, has anyone ever really ASKED DIno if he would want to run against maria C?
It's clear that Stefan's and Jim's time could be better spent focusing on their day jobs but for their leading the drive to end fraud in our election process and to help the legitimate governor-elect retain his victory against the machinations of Ron 'Robert Mugabe' Sims' regime. The end is far from near and we will likely see more litigation.
Shoot this down, if I am way off, but I propose we consider creating a supporter's fund, publicly disclosed, to support the Stefan's and Jim's Herculean investigative efforts (hire some college Republicans as analysts) or applied as financing for litigation that will come.
Any thoughts? Direction? Who knows how to do this?
19. I would support that (literally).
20. I'm in.
21. You need not worry about my day job, but the idea of getting Stefan some help is a good one -- assuming he wants the help, of course.
The manpower is available, College Republicans from across the state are devoted to seeing Rossi take the Governorship back from the Wicked Witch of the West!
You can email the Chairman of the Washington College Republican Federation at: pschafer "at" gonzaga.edu or visit the WCRF website for chapter contact info:
Alternatively, you can email the UWCRs who have the location and immediate manpower to get the ball rolling: Brent Ludeman policy "at" uwcr.net or Aaron Schwitters political "at" uwcr.net
Patrick E. Bell
President & Executive Chairman
PLU College Republicans
Before you get too wound up about the Snohomish auditor, I think Caleb is right on the mark. As an IT guy who works with data analysis on a day-to-day basis, I would do exactly what Snohomish is doing: i.e., provide the data, but also take steps to ensure that the integrity of the data is protected. When we exchange electronic technical data with subcontractors, we never provide it in an editable format - it is always "frozen", either in something transmittable like a PDF file, or a physical medium like a CD. I suspect they already have a process in place to produce (and track) these files when requests are received; sticking to the process ensures there is an audit trail (sort of what we wish Ukraine County had done, eh?).
24. The Snohomish county auditor, Bob Terwilliger, is not a "petty snot-nosed jerk" as you maintain. I mean, just look at his picture! He exudes warmth, compassion, and a determination to fight for human rights around the globe. Or something. My question is: what species of road kill is sitting on the top of his head as a makeshift toupee?
If the Snohomish County Auditor has a reason for their refusal to deliver the data as I requested it, they have declined both over the phone and by e-mail to communicate that reason to me.
The data integrity explanation that has been offered is pretty lame. What is the essential difference between issuing a file on CD vs. issuing it by e-mail? Once I have the CD in my hand, I can do the same thing with it that I can do once I receive the e-mail.
King County gets rewarded for their incompetence by being allowed to count rejected/dubious ballots.
Other counties get punished for their competence by following the law, and not including rejected ballots.
If Gregoire sits as governor, it will be bureaucratic incompetence that would have defeated the will of the voters.
Fed Up - LOL - I don't think that is actually road kill on top of his head - I think it's still alive and moving!
Stefan - I'll be happy to drive up to Snohomish County and pick the damn thing up - they are too much up there. Let me know!
28. following in the spirit of freedom of info, do you have intentions of posting these for our crunching as well? that would save us contacting the auditors offices, and they could use that valuable time to look under boxes and in basements for more lost ballots.
I recieved the same response, but with an explanation of why the DOB would not be included.
They also told me they do not track the progress of the ballot, that intially rejected then accepted or whatever path it takes etc. which is really wierd to me, somewhere that info has to be kept, though they say it isnt recorded.
As to the CD and PDF issues, well IT people are known to be anal, but thats just stupid if it is their reason.
They have the originals to counter any claims and whats to stop anyone from re-creating the CD and PDF after the fact, no sorry it's either laziness from the IT department (possible) or arrogance, the person responding of course has no control over the issue, she seems fairly nice.
I also have to say though that niether KC, Pierce, or San Juan have replied and Snohomish did almost immediately.
I have also requested from the USPS a list of registered PBE's in the state, getting a list of storage unit companies wont be too hard either.
Results will be interesting.
When we had our troubles in Maryland, the Baltimore City authorities did everything they could to delay releasing voter info to Ellen Sauerbrey. They made sure that she only got her necessary information a day or two before she had to present oral arguments in her court challenge.
What is Rossi's deadline?
One other thing. I really don't want my personal e-mail information here when I post. Is there any way to hide it from the spam-bot types? Thanks.
Keep up the great work!
Ron J. in Virginia
Fedup - Just one more reason to track this disaster that is occuring in your fair state.
Keep some humor in it.
Lookout Mountain, GA
tracking you guys from DC at the moment, keep up the good work Stefan.
This is a post from my blog on Nov. 2nd. I thought you would all enjoy it since it relates to todays topic. So now, without further ado... The Real-life Sideshow Bob.
For those out there that don't know who Sideshow Bob is, he is a recurring character on The Simpsons voiced by Kelsy Grammer.
His full name is Robert "Sideshow" Terwilliger.
He was Krusty The Clowns sidekick until he tried to frame Krusty for armed robbery.
Luckily Bart and Lisa figured out that it wasn't Krusty, but in fact Sideshow Bob.
Bob swore revenge on Bart, and has tried to kill Bart on numerous occasions.
In one the best Bob episodes, Bob runs for Mayor of Springfield, against the Kennedyesque Diamond Joe Quimby.
He wins the election and tries to destroy the town, just to kill Bart.
So a couple years ago, I saw something that made me laugh, until I realized it wasn't a joke.
In Snohomish County, where I live, the County Auditor was running for re-election. His name, Robert Terwilliger.
33. I wouldn't let them screw around too much ... RCW 42.17.340(4) allows for recovery of attorneys fees, costs and a per diem penalty for withholding documents. Someone, perhaps Richard, could note a simple show cause
Ron J: I think a lot of trolls make up fake e-mail addresses...like email@example.com. Stuff like that. I guess that works. :-) But don't be afraid to post your real e-mail. I've actually had someone e-mail a great explanation to a question I had that they didn't want to post. Turned out great!
Keep going Shark, et al!!! Afraid my day job prevents me from helping out much in this horrendous process.
As for the IT stuff...I remember working for the state and I NEVER wanted to give people original data if I could help it...anytime I needed to release anything it was locked, password protected, or somehow regulated. I think it's an anal thing.
35. It's fine to have your opinions, but do you have any idea how crazed Stefan's opinions sound to the non-political? Throwing a blog-hissy fit because some auditor wants to give you a CD instead of emailing you is ridiculous. I wouldn't give you an editable file either, because frankly you're mentally unbalanced. Take a break, for your own sake.
36. It's whinning.....it's ridiculous and it must stop.......bipartisan King Cty Canvasing Bd says CG picked up votes.....Republican Sec of State says using rules he's had for years CG won....Bipartisan WSSC rules unanimously that the Republican Sec of States rules were correct....now all the legislature has to do is confirm the results supplied by Sam Reed.....Rossi should stop this silliness now
37. It's fine to have your opinions, but do you have any idea how crazed Stefan's opinions sound to the non-political?
What would the non-political be doing reading Stefan's opinions? Is ignorance a virtue?
It's whinning.....it's ridiculous and it must stop.......
When you say it "must" stop, I assume you are speaking figuratively?
Stefan, I think it's great you have so many people stepping up unselfishly, offering to show you the error of your ways.
38. Obsessive compulsive disorder can now be treated. Paxil does wonders, I hear. Good luck.
FlaRich makes some good points. Unfortunately, they are based on faulty logic. Yes, the SOS says Comrade Gregoireovich "won" using the rules that have been in place... but these rules are not adequate to differentiate between candidates in an election as close as this... and the hand recount is known to be LESS accurate than the machine count. IMO, we'll NEVER know who actually won this election. It was just too close... so ridiculously close that virtually the smallest amount of fraud or cheating by either side would affect the outcome.
I don't consider it to be whining when all anyone on the GOP side is trying to do at this time is track down and document the problems that occurred.
While I would hate to see Gregoireovich in office, I'm confident she'll do as poorly as governor (probably much worse) than she did as AG. In the long run this would be good for the Republican party.
Say what you want about Gary Locke... he wasn't that bad as governor... because he didn't really do much of anything in 8 years! At times I wish the US Congress could be as "affective" :-)
A PDF file can be "sealed" to prevent further edits to the original, and can have its data compressed to have its size reduced. So a PDF file could potentially be smaller than a tab-delimited file.
And editable data on a CD is similarly "sealed" to prevent further edits (even accidental) which could lead to incorrect assertions about the original data.
It's good practice to ensure the integrity of the source data is maintained, especially when the conclusions to be drawn from the data have such importance.
41. Obsessive compulsive disorder can now be treated. Paxil does wonders, I hear. Good luck.
I don't have OCD, but I am offended by those who make sport of people with serious medical problems. Troll elsewhere, "Christine G".
Keep up the good work. We greatly appreciate it.
Considering their record so far, I'm more concerned about the integrity of the data they give you. I wouldn't put it past them to change things or make excuses for not giving all the information requested.
Thank you for all you've done to keep us informed, please let us know if there is anything we can do to help you with this endeavor. From what I see there are a lot of people that just want the truth, and an honest election.
6+ hours ago Richard noted:
Stefan, you should also get the computer file of the manual recount election results, and do a precinct analysis of changes in ballot count ....
Likely y'all already know, but since did not see mention in case not:
At end of Ukraine County manual recount, and actually I THINK every night while that recount was in process, floor managers for both (R)s and (D)s got CDs of the master spreadsheet that tracked input of all the precinct tally sheets. Believe they got copies of the actual Excel spreadsheet, but don't know that for sure. If the parties got ALL the Excel data columns, they got some good stuff (one of the better arguments while I was observing data entry was how many spreadsheet columns we the observers would be allowed to see while data was being entered (classic bureaucratic solution by Uk. Cty managers: ALL extended columns were hidden)).
Anyway, WRT Uk. Cty manual recount data:
Instead of fighting the county bureaucrats for an expedited copy, maybe somebody over at Rossi H.Q. or WSRP would burn a CD copy on the spot if they were asked. It would sure seem to be to their advantage to help Stefan out as much as they can. Just a thought.
I read a story today that the Ohio Presidential recount has been completed. Kerry picked up 300 votes. Good thing it wasn't close like WA. Kerry still has lost by a solid, if not overwhelming, margin. Certainly more than Democrat election officials in populous, urban counties could ever hope to overcome with biased canvassing board decisions.
I wonder if the Greens, Libertarians & D's will insist on a hand recount now. I don't know if the law allows that in Ohio, but if they thought they could somehow undermine the legitimacy of the Bush's decisive victory, I'm sure they would demand it.
Methow Ken - not long ago you posted an eloquent explanation of why so many eastern Washingtonians were hoping for a Rossi victory. Perhaps you know about this already. It's from a note I emailed to Stefan a few minutes ago.
"Another Website that should be of great interest to you is: www.klamathbasincrisis.org. An Oregon attorney named James Buchal had an important commentary published there on Dec. 27. First graf went like this:
"Last week, while most Washingtonians were focused on the ongoing effort by Democrats to seize control of the office of governor, Governor Locke last week jumped the gun and released a proposal for new water legislation that gives a preview of life under a Gregoire Administration, where every fervid fantasy of Seattleites can become legislative reality."
Everyone should recognize why natural resource producers are fighting for their economic lives in Wash right now. Buchal's piece proves that point quite well.
To Kevin S.:
The results in Ohio have been certified. The electoral votes were cast December 13th. On January 6th, the House of Representatives will open the electoral college results "envelope" and declare Bush and Cheney the winners. Remember, that's the new Republican-controlled House,
with its new majority of 232 to 203.
The only reason the Democrats are whining is to earn the long-term support and trust of their looniest members.
By inspiration from Posted by Methow Ken at December 28, 2004 10:04 PM:
Somebody needs to do a public records requests for copies of the original signed tally sheets for each precinct on the manual recount. It would have been a simple matter to change some of the data when inputting it into the computer.
49. Scott, I think Rossi is in a win-win situation either way. At this point, anyone who isn't a complete partisan shill realizes that Christine Gregoire Yanukovych stole this election. Dogged pursuit of the origin of the magical mystery ballots will keep this an ongoing scandal even after she takes office, which will limit her ability to inflict further damage on the state. Imagine the effect on voter attitudes of an illegitimate governor pushing through tax increases and draconian regulations. That part of the democrat party that's still honest and fair will be disgusted by what their leadership did. The reps are well-positioned against Cantwell in '06 and Gregoire in '08.
50. P.S. Remember what happened in South Dakota. In 2002, John Thune beat Tim Johnson, until a few hundred funny ballots came in from the Indian Reservations. So, in 2004, Thune came back and knocked off the other democrat, Tom Daschle.
Steve, Richard Pope,
I think Richard misquoted RCW 29A.08.710. He has it written that it is effective until 2006, but 710 is the one that is effective in 2006. RCW 29A.08.125 is effective until January 1st, 2006. 125 is the one that says the birth date MUST be included in the voter information. Verify for yourself:
After my post on this thread last night Richard added:
Somebody needs to do a public records requests for copies of the original signed tally sheets for each precinct on the manual recount. It would have been a simple matter to change some of the data when inputting it into the computer.
Good luck reading some of them: I complained several times that 3-4 percent or so of the tally slips had numbers so small and so poorly written that it was VERY hard to decipher them: Was the digit a 3 or an 8; a 1 or a 7; a 5 or a 6; etc. A few were so illegible that they had to be sent back to the counting tables. Some of the people at the counting tables should have been dismissed for (apparently) not being able to write.
And in fact the actual data input operation itself was IMO probably the lowest risk for altering data: Both parties had experienced IT people watching every last tally slip being entered (well, ALMOST every tally slip: out of hundreds I watched go in maybe I missed cross-checking all the numbers on 4 or 5). And the spreadsheet had an auto total cross-check column that we COULD see; which means to avoid that very visible red flag the operator would have to alter TWO numbers without being detected by observers.
Plus everything was dual entry: Two data entry operators at 2 separate data entry stations input pink and yellow NCR copies of the white tally top-sheet master into 2 different copies of the master spreadsheet. Therefore to fudge numbers on actual data entry would I think have been very difficult; especially since the 2 data entry people were never on the same precinct at the same time; i.e.: they would have had to agree between themselves AHEAD OF TIME exactly how and on which precincts they would alter totals for both Dino and That Woman, in such a way that the totals would still be correct; WITHOUT getting caught by the observers. I doubt very much that happened; it would have been hard to do and high-risk.
SIDEBAR: Giving credit where credit is due, the data entry operators actually caught quite a few errors, and pointed them out to supervisors. The number of tally slip errors coming in from the counting tables was IMO considerably higher than it should have been, with 3 people (supposedly) cross-checking each other. I stand by my original impression of the whole counting operation: Messy. VERY messy.
Also, even if somebody still wants to look at all the tally slips (there are IIRC 2663 precincts in Uk. Cty), I believe originals are still sealed in the precinct ballot boxes; getting at those would be a HUGE operation. And many of the pink / yellow NCR copies are faint enough that I expect a legible copy would be hard to produce.
SUMMARY just from my perspective:
The actual dual data-entry from the tally slips is not an area I would focus on; unless somebody wanted to verify the final spreadsheet data matches what was on the slips. I don't know how many Uk. Cty supervisors had the master password for the spreadsheet, but it was probably half a dozen people or so.
Posted by Jonathan Gardner at December 29, 2004 08:43 AM
Both RCW 29A.08.125 and RCW 29A.08.710 change on 01/01/2006. The changes in each section are not relevant to the date of birth issue.
RCW 29A.08.125 requires the county auditor to keep the date of birth information on its own computer system.
RCW 29A.08.710, on the other hand, does not include date of birth in the information the auditor may release to the public.
I stand corrected. Thank you for pointing that out, Richard.
Even though the date of birth is not public information, can we request that the county auditor do some queries that use the date of birth and then show us the results? For instance: Which voters have similar names and reside at the same address and have the same birthdate?
55. Years ago I worked for the Everett Daily Herald. They would make requests for copies of the Counties general ledger. Invariably the data would come as data dumps of the IBM VSAM datastore on 9 track tape. This threw us for a loop the first time. But I perserved and wrote the routines to format the date correctly. By the end of my tenure, this procedure had become routine.