Evan Smith: Why is the vote count so slow?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

By Evan Smith

ShorelineAreaNews Politics Writer

A week after Election Day, King County is still counting the votes and will count them for another week.

A County elections official gave me these reasons Tuesday: late voting; complex ballot screening; and improperly marked ballots and ballot envelopes.

Late voting means that elections officials need to count many ballots during election week. Elections spokeswoman Kim van Ekstrom said that cars are lined up at the elections office at 8 p.m. election night to drop ballots.

The complexities of ballot screening include scanning envelope signatures to compare them to signatures on file and checking every ballot to make sure it is scanner ready—bubbles clearly marked with dark ink etc.

Improperly marked ballots need to be examined by the County canvassing board – representatives from the elections office, the County Council and the prosecuting attorney. Improperly signed envelopes need to be returned to the voters.

Right after the election, both King and Snohomish counties were taking two days to process ballots. By Friday, Snohomish County had closed the gap, but King County was still two days behind. Van Ekstrom says it’s because of the County’s higher volume of ballots.

With Tuesday’s count, one local return looks like this:

City Of Lake Forest Park Proposition No. 1 Levy For Retention Of Basic Public Safety And Other Services:

YES                     1,100                   21.82%
NO                      3,941                   78.18%
Total Votes           5,041
Undervotes               73
Total Ballots         5,114
Turnout                54.82%


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