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Vol. 17, No. 51, June 20, 2005


This Reveille Home Page | The Friday Program: Washington’s Gubernatorial Election | Sayoko’s Cheer | Judge Jenny Passes the Torch | Friday Potpourri | Rotarian of the Year: Ron Healey | Norm’s Farewell | Two Prospective Members: Steve Bender & Kathi Lehr | Web Fun


This Week marks the culmination of another Rotary Year — not just any Rotary Year, but the once-in-a-100-years commemoration of Rotary International’s founding. With work yet to do, the BBRC enters its 20th year by celebrating another Rotating the Wheels. This promises to be the finest ever, with over 120 members and guests arriving at the Mercer Island Beach Club, 8326 Avalon Drive, Mercer Island. Complete directions to the site are available on the BBRC website.

THERE WILL BE NO FRIDAY MORNING MEETING AT GLENDALE. Meeting’s resume next week with the first meeting of the new year, Friday, July 1, 7:00 a.m at Glendale.


The old Mix Chassis is undergoing some preliminaries to a grand surgery scheduled for Monday, July 11. An arthritic knee got the best of your Club Administrator and will be replaced that day. Just plug and play, right?!


The Friday Program:
Washington’s Gubernatorial Election

x0621Handy1Nick Handy, Director of Elections for the State of Washington, was enjoying the first vestiges of retirement when he received a call from his friend Sam Reed while playing a round of golf. Handy, who retired last year after 30 years in public service, including the top job as Director of the Port of Olympia, couldn’t turn down his old friend, the Secretary of State. Seems, a position had suddenly opened up on the SOS staff ­ that of Director of Elections.

Rotary is no mystery to Nick Handy. His father is 99 and has contributed 60 years to Rotary. Another connection is Katie Sheeran, daughter of the BBRC’s John Sheeran who serves as the Assistant Director of Elections on Handy’s staff. When Handy was offered the job, he was told by Secretary Reed that he’d have “over 100 years of election experience on the staff he would lead. Twenty-one lawsuits later, we found we’d need every bit of experience to handle what became the closest election in America’s history.”

In 30 minutes, Handy gave a most concise overview of the entire election. “Three weeks before the voting, polls showed Christine Gregoire winning handily. At that moment, her opponent, Dino Rossi began a big media blast, which closed the margin dramatically. In fact, we think that if the election was one day earlier, Gregoire would have won by a margin greater than the figure necessary to trigger a statewide recount; and conversely, if the election was one day beyond the actual date, we think Rossi would have won outright.”

The closest governor’s race in the nation’s history produced results that were 99.99% accurate. The margin swung between 28 and 280 votes ... 2800 votes would have been one one-hundredths of a percentage point. Handy said that “this significantly close election brought out the magnifying glasses and a close scrutiny of election process.”

The election system in the state is implemented by 38 elected county auditors and one appointed King County Director of Elections. There are three major elements of the process:

x0621SheeranEach county auditor is charged with design their county ballot. Their job is to keep track of registered voters, send out the ballots, and supervise the counting of ballots

The Canvassing Board is a three-person board with the County Auditor as Chair, and the County Prosecuting Attorney and the Chair of the County Legislative Body (the County Commission) as members. All of the votes tallied in an election must go through the Canvassing Board for certification. Any disputed votes must be scrutinized by the Board prior to disposition. All decisions in this process are final. Once all votes have been counted properly, a final certification is made to the Secretary of State.

The Office of the Secretary of State houses the State Elections Division. The SOS is charged with writing rules for each election cycle, providing the same set of rules statewide. Equipment used by individual counties is certified for use by the SOS. Initiatives and Referenda are certified for validity prior to placing on a ballot.

* * *

Tuesday, November 2, 2004

The day dawned with some members of the election “fraternity” suspecting a very close election. As the votes were counted, this was verified. Rossi ended up winning the first count by 261 votes. That margin triggered a mandatory, statewide machine recount. The machine recount produced a margin of 42 votes. The Democrats requested a hand recount, for which they had to put up $730,000 to finance. The hand recount produced a reversal, with Gregoire winning by a final margin of 129 votes.

Handy said there were “no machine errors detected in any machine statewide. There were cases of human error by election personnel and by electors. About 1% of our voters don’t follow instructions, which calls for an attempt to determine the intent of the voter.” When a voter casts a vote for two candidates in the same race, neither of these votes count (Over vote). When a voter leaves the space blank, that’s an under vote. Because of the closeness of the Governor’s race, it was the only race involved in a recount.”

Handy explained that Washington is a “voter-intent state. According to law, hundreds, and perhaps thousands of ballots must be further scrutinized in order to determine voter intent. A three member counting board is established made up of a Republican, a Democrat and a third independent person. It is their job to agree on the intent of the voter. If intention cannot be determined, the vote in that particular race would not be counted.”

Handy also spoke to what he called “Non­problems. One of these was military voters. We verified that all ballots were sent out in a timely way and most were returned in a timely way. There were 25 ballots cast for voters who were deceased, none of which were allowed. Casting a ballot for a deceased spouse or another deceased person is a felony.”

Handy said there were only two alien, non-citizens voters uncovered during tabulations. These were a Chinese couple who had green cards and thought that would allow them the right to vote. They came forward and their votes were voided.

The biggest problem was caused by felon voters. In Washington, the right to vote is removed until a felon has served his/her term, PLUS met any financial obligations. Handy said that 1300 to 1400 people fell into this category and constituted illegal votes. With the secret voting process, it is not possible to tell for whom the ballots were cast.

x0621HandyJohnsonProvisional ballots is a recent addition to the voting process. Mandated by Congress, a provisional ballot is issued to a person who’s name is not on the polling book. This would indicate that the person has gone to the wrong polling place. When a voter comes to the wrong precinct, they must fill out the ballot with additional information, which is then sent to their regular precinct for verification. Some 90,000 provisional voters cast ballots in this last election and some walked over and put their ballot in the box. Iin King County, 350 were in this category and 80% were found to be eligible voters. As Handy said, this was one of the human errors by election workers, allowing provisional voters to cast the ballot. Already, eleven bills passed the legislature to reform the election process and improve the system. Provisional ballots will be designed differently than the regular ballot, will be a different color and will be scrutinized closely by election workers.

The final part of this drama was the “contest” ­ the legal challenge to the recounting process. The Republican Party brought the lawsuit, requesting it be tried in Wenatchee District Court. The GOP based their suit on alleged fraud or illegal votes which would set aside the election and call for a new one. After two weeks of testimony beginning in late May, the Wenatchee Court said the GOP failed to prove their case. The next day, Dino Rossi called off further attempts to solve the issue by legal means.

The final margin of victory for Christine Gregoire was 133 votes, when the judge restored 4 additional votes to Gregoire, which were taken from Rossi’s total.

The conclusion that the “culture of problems need to be repaired in King County” in order to re-establish confidence in the election system was one of the major findings by Nick Handy and his state election division.

A certificate donating 1,220 pounds of fresh food to area food banks through Rotary First Harvest was made in the name of today’s speaker. Thanks to John Sheeran for his introduction.





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