We’ve had mail-in elections since 2009. It’s time you guys figured this shit out!!! DAVID MCNEW/GETTY
Raise your hand if you are confused by the way the vote totals have been counted in the days post-election. Okay, great. And is this your first time paying attention to a local election? Noted. Now, do you know how mail-in elections work?
Mail-in elections have been the standard in Washington state since 2009. This means the gradual process for counting ballots has been around for 10 years, so people should really know what’s going on. “It’s always been this way,” Kendall Hodson, chief of staff for King County Elections, told The Stranger, “People do tend to forget every year.”
And boy, do they. A case study in what is not happening can be found in Facebook comments on ballot drop update articles across the region. None of these people have a clue what’s going on here. That doesn’t stop them from commenting. After yesterday’s Hollywood-plot-twist of a ballot drop, where Kshama Sawant clawed her way back from an eight-point deficit to a two-point deficit in the District 3 race, Facebook comments turned into a death pit of misinformation and idiocy, as they are oft to do.
Were you one of the Seattle Times commenters who chimed in with one of these insightful tidbits?
“They are searching every corner and behind all file cabinets for ballots to make sure she wins!”
“The Democrats are at it again finding boxes of uncounted vote. This is how the Democrats cheat in Washington State and that is why Democrats always get in office.”
“Of course… oh look more ballots hiding in that closet…how many do we need? Well whaddaya know”
“Progressive candidate random stacks of ballots are usually discovered in unusual places in the eleventh hour.”
Maybe you were one of the politicos on KOMO’s Facebook thread?
“Amazing how it works that way. It just “seems” like the initial totals are only to tell how many more votes need to be manufactured.”
“Seattle…. as good as you are at “manufacturing” votes I have no doubt you’ll get her in the lead in a few days. 😠”
“I predict some magic ballots will be found after a couple of recounts.”
“A whole plane-load of votes just landed at SeaTac, direct from Mumbai” [stock image of a plane]
“Not corrupt at all. Totally legit that 2 days after the election they are still finding votes. As we know who won every measure and election and advisory vote seattle city council positions of power are still up for grabs.”
“how much money has been passed to do this?? How many ballots have been changed?? How many duplicate ballots have been accepted to do this…….”
“She had to wait and see how many more votes she needed to find at the cemetery or in the woods 🙄🙄🙄”
“Where did they find a box of ballots this time, Inside the actual refrigerator, feeling the Bern?”
“Stuffed ballots as featured on special menu tonight.”
“They must be filling ballot boxes to be counted later.”
“They will recount several time until they miraculously find votes and she will win, libs will do anything to win.”
“How can they find that many votes in a precinct that small. There has to be cheating.”
“Paid off by the port! Get rid of this trash along with sally bagwell”
“You people need too look at the computer programs king county is using and who sold them to the county”
Only one person on The Stranger‘s page thought anything was amiss:
“Suspicious,” he wrote.
First, let’s clear one thing up. Sally Bagshaw is not running for re-election, KIRO7 commenter. But actually, no one is finding ballots in filing cabinets, and no one is finding a “plane-load of votes…direct from Mumbai.” Hodson from King County Elections assures me that these ballot drops are not suspicious in the least. She’s sorry the process is slow but the team is grinding away.
To put things in perspective, mail-in elections are tough because 60,000 ballots came in the mail the day after election day. They were all good and kosher, post-marked on election day as they should be. Snail mail is just, snail mail. Add to that the 215,000 they collected from drop boxes that were delivered on election night that weren’t counted until the days after and it starts to seem less of a conspiracy theory and more of an “oh, that’s just the process.”
After the ballots arrive, there are four steps, two of which are done by hand. They scan the ballot, then the team manually opens it, manually checks the ballot signature with the signature on file, and then puts the physical ballot through the scan machines. “That moves real fast, 15-20,000 ballots an hour,” Hodson said, “We’re rocking upstairs right now.”
While the bulk of the ballots will be done and counted after tonight, King County Elections doesn’t certify the election until Nov. 26. There will be some straggler ballots trickling in over the coming week, but no one is going to find any ballots in the trunk of any cars.
If only we could chide people to think—or read, really—before they comment.