Presentation on theme: "Metropolitan King County Council February 14, 2005 Dean C. Logan, Director King County Records, Elections and Licensing Services Division Report to the."— Presentation transcript:
Metropolitan King County Council February 14, 2005 Dean C. Logan, Director King County Records, Elections and Licensing Services Division Report to the
“It is the policy of the State of Washington to encourage every eligible person to register to vote and to participate fully in all elections, and to protect the integrity of the electoral process by providing equal access to the process while guarding against discrimination and fraud.” Chapter 29A.04.205 Revised Code of Washington
Elections Timeline 2003-2006 July 2003 July 2003 King County Council forms the Citizens’ Election Oversight Committee (CEOC) to improve performance and accountability of elections September 2003 September 2003 Primary reviewed by CEOC – no serious errors reported; Dean Logan appointed Director – Records, Elections and Licensing Services Division; 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals finds Washington’s blanket primary unconstitutional November 2003 November 2003 General Election reviewed by CEOC – no serious errors reported; Bill Huennekens appointed Superintendent of Elections, EMVR Project Approved in 2004 Adopted Budget December 2003 December 2003 Legislature cancels the March 2004 Presidential Preference Primary February 2004 February 2004 Special Election; Legislature adopts new top-two primary system March 2004 March 2004 Special Election April 2004 April 2004 Special Election; Governor vetoes top-two primary, signs in to law a “Montana-style” partisan primary May 2004 May 2004 Special Election; CEOC Report submitted to King County Council; Mock Elections conducted using new Election Management and Voter Registration system prior to final conversion
Elections Timeline continued June 2004 June 2004 Elections converts to new Election Management and Voter Registration system July 2004 July 2004 Labor, Operations and Technology Committee reviews CEOC report on elections; countywide list maintenance and voter education mailing; Seattle Monorail petition received and signatures verified; Candidate Filing for fall Elections September 2004 September 2004 New and complex primary replaces the blanket primary – record turnout; Council reviews CEOC report and passes motion in support of recommendations October 2004 October 2004 Record number of new registrations processed by King County Elections November 2004 November 2004 General Elections is held – record turnout, record number of absentees issued and counted; Manual recount conducted for office of Governor; Disability Accessible Voting Equipment (DAVE) Project approved in 2005 Adopted Budget December 2004 December 2004 Manual recount conducted in Governor’s race – close to 900,000 ballots hand counted
Elections Timeline continued January 2005 January 2005 King County Council redistricting plan adopted; Election contest filed in close gubernatorial race; Tens of thousands of documents provided in response to 30+ public disclosure requests February 2005 February 2005 Special Election date April 2005 April 2005 Special Election date May 2005 May 2005 Special Election date June 2005 June 2005 Voter registration mailing with new Council District designations September 2005 September 2005 New “top-two” primary to be implemented November 2005 November 2005 General Election January 2006 January 2006 New Help America Vote Act election administration requirements must be implemented
2004: Record Volumes - Historic Outcomes “We have done many things right. We have many more things to do better. We need to persevere, stay the course and not adopt radical measures when reasonable ones will make the most difference.” Record setting voter registration Record setting absentee ballots issued Record number of absentee ballots cast Record number of ballots counted on Election Day Record voter turnout Historic new primary Historic close election First countywide manual recount
Election Management and Voter Registration System Excerpt from review conducted by the Office of the Secretary of State (February 2003) “The county needs to acquire or build a voter registration system designed for a jurisdiction of their size. The large number of transactions and absentee ballots issued requires a system with more capacity and the ability to handle their volume and more efficient capture and storage of voter signature images.”
Election Management and Voter Registration System New election management and voter registration system installed and implemented in June 2004 New system replaces outdated legacy mainframe system that lacked ability to manage growing voter registration transactions and absentee voters Project completed on time and under budget; savings re-appropriated for HAVA implementation project 2004 primary and General Election administered using the updated technology and work flow systems Project plan and management serve as models in county’s technology governance structure
Voting Rights Act – Minority Language Compliance King County Elections Web site is recognized as one of the first bilingual elections Web sites in the country. Since 2002, the number of voters requesting and using Chinese language ballots and voting materials has progressively increased. King County Elections’ Minority Language Coordinator is chosen to participate in U.S. Department of State teleconference to provide leaders in China with expertise in their developing electoral processes. External oversight provided by Section 203 Coalition, Organization of Chinese Americans.
The New Primary Primary implemented in just 100 days Public engagement Outreach and education Stakeholder involvement Regional coordination Record turnout “Voting in the new Primary… easy as 1-2-3 ”
Voter Outreach and Education Vote Mobile – partnership with the League of Women Voters brings voter registration to communities across King County Speakers’ Bureau – more than 100 presentations reach out to 78,000 people Transit and Cable Advertising – saturates King County in primary and General Election Minority Community Outreach – multi-lingual presentations educate first- time voters
Record Setting Voter Registration and Absentees Leading up to the 2004 General Election, King County processed a record-breaking 138,729 new registrations, a 40 percent increase for the same 10-month period leading up to the 2000 election.
Record Setting Voter Registration and Absentees The numbers of absentee ballots issued in the General Election set a new record at 646,468 issued. 160,000 more than in any previous election. Record breaking firsts include: the number of absentee ballots processed and tabulated on Election Day -- 233,254 the number of provisional ballots issued -- more than 31,000 the number of provisional ballots validated and included in the final returns -- more than 28,000; and an overall voter turnout of 83 percent
Manual Recount Procedures “It is hard to imagine a fairer and more meaningful opportunity to observe. The procedure proposed by King County Records complies with the WAC requirement.” Washington State Republican Party petition in McDonald v. Secretary of State (76321-6, December 7, 2004) Nearly 900,000 ballots hand counted in King County in 16 days New, temporary facility set up to accommodate 400 bipartisan workers and observers Eighty recount boards organized into teams of three – one designee from the Democratic party, one designee from the Republican party and a third member recruited from Elections’ seasonal work registry Multiple observer areas ensure open, fair and transparent proceedings Precinct counts are compared to the original and machine recount totals and recounted until two independent counts matched
Military and Overseas Ballots Military and overseas citizens’ ballots were mailed on time by Oct. 8, 2004. Once King County mails absentee ballots, the responsibility shifts to the Post Office and Department of Defense. The U.S. Department of Defense, Federal Voting Assistance Program coordinates with all branches of the armed services to assist military and overseas voters in obtaining ballots and voting. Voted ballots returned from outside the U.S. are valid and counted as long as they are signed by the date of the election and received prior to certification (15 days following a General Election).
Reports of deceased voters casting ballots The Washington State Department of Health, Office of Vital Statistics is required to provide death notifications to the counties on a regular basis to assist in removing deceased voters from the rolls. By state law, voter registration files are closed 30 days prior to an election for new registrations sent by mail, cancellations and transfers. In 2004, 4,305 registrations were canceled in King County based on notification that the voter was deceased. Forms for cancellation of a deceased voter are available at all polling locations on Election Day for voters to complete if they are aware of the death of another voter.
Reports of felons voting Election officials cannot remove a convicted felon from the voter registration files without notification from the courts. State and federal laws compel election officials to add a new voter to the registration files when a registration application is received and includes the minimum required information and a signature attesting to their qualifications to become a registered voter. More than 600 registrations were canceled in 2004 based on court notification of a felony conviction. The oath on the voter registration application, which must be signed, includes the statement that the applicant is not currently denied their civil rights as a result of a felony conviction.
Ballot Duplication and Enhancement Ballot duplications and enhancements are conducted by at least two people in the presence of political party observers. A log is maintained of all duplications and enhancements to ensure full accountability of all ballot handling. In the 2004 General Election, 4,902 ballots were duplicated and 55,177 ballots were enhanced out of nearly 900,000 ballots cast.
Canvassing Board review of ballots The King County Canvassing Board reviewed more than 1,600 ballots to determine voter intent. More than 95% of these decisions were unanimous. Determination was made in public meetings, on the record and in the presence of political party observers. Washington is a voter intent state. Election laws give deference to voter intent where it can be determined over following instructions on how to mark a ballot.
Variance between ballots cast and voters credited The most common reasons people who voted may not appear on the list of credited voters is: they cast a federal write-in ballot in accordance with provisions of the Federal Voting Assistance Program (which includes non- registered service personnel and overseas voters); they are participants in the state’s Address Confidentiality Program (victims of domestic violence and stalking whose information is secured from public record); or human error during the crediting process or when voters sign the poll books.
Variance between ballots cast and voters credited Variance from preliminary report = 3,539 Further reconciliation efforts (1,018) Address Confidentiality Program ballots (69) Federal write-in ballots (251) Provisional ballots deposited in AccuVotes (348) Remaining variance attributed to administrative error = 1,853 Remaining variance attributed to administrative error = 1,853 0.2% 1,853 variance / 899,199 =.002 x 100 = 0.2% 99.8 percent of all voters who cast ballots were credited Past Year VariancesOther Counties Variance 2003 – 606 (99.84%)Clark – 225 (99.86%) 2002 – 2,809 (99.5%)*Spokane – 77 (99.97%) 2000 – 1,230 (99.85%)
Managing through Challenges “...there is every indication that the King County Records, Elections and Licensing Services Division acted professionally and intended to act in the public’s best interest under immense pressure and under intense public scrutiny.” “Armies of lawyers and poll watchers examine King County’s every move, threatening litigation and more. Under the circumstances, King County’s prudence is understandable.” Excerpt from King County Superior Court Opinion in Washington State Republican Party v. Washington State Democratic Central Committee v. King County Records, Elections and Licensing Services Division. (Case No. 04-2-36048-0 SEA; Nov.16, 2004)
Managing through Challenges Absentee Ballots Duplicate Ballots Postal Handling Errors Print Quality Issues “No Signature on File” Ballots Ballots returned from the polls Provisional Ballots 348 identified deposited in AccuVotes 252 later validated and credited Legal Challenges Superior Court in King County – Democratic Party Superior Court in Pierce County – Republican Party State Supreme Court – Democratic & Republican Parties
Proposed Election Reform support Moving the date of the primary – support support Reimbursing counties for the state share of even- year election costs – support support Extending the time provided for certification of election results – support We need meaningful, reasonable election reform that includes:
Proposed Election Reform continued support Conducting certain elections entirely by mail – support support Canvassing and ballot processing procedures – support oppose Requiring absentee ballots to be returned by Election Day – oppose
2005 Action Plan Seizing the Moment and Moving Ahead “King County should reorganize and consolidate key parts of its elections operations in order to reduce the potential for errors and to gain efficiencies.” Excerpt from the Citizens’ Election Oversight Committee Report (May 2004) STATE-OF-THE-ART FACILITY single, secure location for all election activities and services capacity to conduct countywide vote-by-mail elections comprehensive training facility fully functional communications center ballot tracking and accountability systems laboratory setting for developing technology public viewing areas
Action Plan Seizing the Moment and Moving Ahead ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND CULTURAL CHANGE formalized staff training organizational accountability with benchmarks and production standards improve work flow which includes updated and documented procedures and policies analysis of reducing the number of precincts and consolidating polling locations implementation of a revised Information Technology support model with technical support directly in the Elections Section
Action Plan Seizing the Moment and Moving Ahead “The Elections Section should create a formal training plan and commit the resources necessary to implement it. The Election Section’s training must ensure there is sufficient cross- training of workers to ensure smooth operations and better teamwork.” Excerpt from the Citizens’ Election Oversight Committee Report (May 2004) IMPLEMENT REMAINING PROVISIONS – HELP AMERICA VOTE ACT (HAVA) Disability Access Voting Equipment (DAVE) Needs Assessment Demonstrations Implementation Development and implementation of the statewide voter registration database
Action Plan Seizing the Moment and Moving Ahead MAINTAIN ENGAGEMENT WITH THE PUBLIC Conduct focus groups to assess voter education, election reform and security Re-establish speakers’ bureau to address concerns related to the 2004 General Election Expand Web-based resources to enhance election transparency Continue external oversight – Citizens’ Election Oversight Committee and coordination with other jurisdictions
Summary & Conclusion New and recurring challenges ahead… Compliance with new federal laws calling for disability access voting equipment in all polling locations Administration of another new primary system Implementation of the new council district redistricting plan Responding to changing public dynamics Implementing statewide election reform measures “…this report should remain an active document – one which we refer back to often to measure progress and as a reality check on its relevance.”
Summary & Conclusion “The citizens of King County have a right to expect high quality performance in the conduct of our elections. We cannot demand perfection; we know that there will be breakdowns and errors in the future. But we can insist that the Elections Section operate on a standard of professionalism, expertise, accountability and continuous improvement, and by the same token must insist that our elected officials provide the resources and organization required to achieve that standard.” AFTERWARD, King County Citizens’ Election Oversight Committee Report (May 2004)
For more information, contact King County Elections at: email@example.com (206) 296-1540