It wasn't just any citizen whose voting problem led to King County's discovery yesterday that 561 voters had been disenfranchised by apparent data-entry goofs. Larry Phillips, chairman of...

Share story


It wasn’t just any citizen whose voting problem led to King County’s discovery yesterday that 561 voters had been disenfranchised by apparent data-entry goofs.


Larry Phillips, chairman of the Metropolitan King County Council, was at a Democratic Party campaign office in Fremont Sunday preparing to visit people whose absentee votes had been rejected because of signature problems.


Reading down a list of disqualified voters in his Magnolia neighborhood, he saw a familiar name. “I yelled at the table, ‘Yikes, it’s me!’ “


When he contacted election officials to find out why his vote wasn’t counted, their answer raised alarm bells: Because there wasn’t a copy of his signature in the election computer system, his vote had been tossed out along with those of voters who failed to sign their absentee-ballot envelopes or whose John Hancocks didn’t match those on file.


“They just threw my ballot in with that group they’re not going to count. Hello? This guy did everything right,” Phillips said.


He was among a group of voters whose signatures on their registration cards for some reason weren’t scanned into the computer.


Under standard operating procedure, if the computer didn’t have a signature on file, the signature on his ballot envelope should have been compared with the signature on his voter-registration card.


King County Elections Director Dean Logan called Phillips Sunday night to apologize for the error. Then his staff searched the computers to find out how many other ballots were rejected because no signature was on file.


That computer search turned up a total of 561 wrongfully rejected votes — and yesterday found the paper ballots stored along with ballots rejected for missing or mismatched signatures.


Election workers are now comparing 561 signatures on ballot envelopes with signatures on registration cards. Those that match will go to the county canvassing board tomorrow, where Logan will propose adding the votes to the manual recount.


The 561 disqualified voters were among 2,478 absentee and provisional voters whose ballots were rejected for signature-related reasons.


Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or kervin@seattletimes.com















How votes can be checked


King County absentee and provisional voters can find out if their votes were cast by calling 296-8683 (VOTE). Provisional voters who kept the reference number given to them at the polls may also check at: www.metrokc.gov/elections/ballots/provisionalballot/ballotlookup.aspx