Washington is in its third vote-count. There was the initial count, then a recount and now a third hand count. King county has been particularly fluctuant in its reported numbers in each of these counts. Now – where the margin of victory in the Governor’s race is 42 votes according to the second recount and 88 votes counting votes found in the current recount – King County has found 561 ballots that were improperly disqualified because signatures of a few hundred registered voters had not made it into their registration database (these signatures existed on the hard-copy registration cards) (from the Seattle Times, “Error discovery could give Gregoire election”):
The King County error came to light Sunday when Larry Phillips, chairman of the Metropolitan King County Council, was looking over a list of voters from his neighborhood whose ballots had been disqualified.
Phillips spotted his own name on the list, prompting an investigation by King County elections workers that turned up 561 improperly disqualified ballots.
King County Elections Director Dean Logan said that when workers were verifying signatures on absentee ballots, they erroneously disqualified voters whose signatures hadn’t been entered into a computer system.
Instead, Logan said, they should have double-checked with signatures on voters’ registration cards on file with the county.
This is yet another reminder that the voting system is exactly that, a system. There are many points of failure outside of the polling place and even the central tabulation activities. Any part of this system can potentially affect the outcome of the race, by accident or on purpose.