County ready for recount

By JIM HALEY

Herald Writer

EVERETT — The hubbub over vote totals in Florida may have caused some in Snohomish County to wonder if their votes really were counted in the general election early this month.

What’s more, some might wonder how their votes will be treated in the recount starting here this morning in two statewide races.

Those are legitimate questions, said Scott Konopasek, election manager in the auditor’s office.

But that’s why a strict set of procedures is employed before each election — in this case a recount of the tight secretary of state and U.S. Senate races.

Eight hundred test ballots were run through the county’s eight optical scanner vote-counting machines Wednesday in preparation for the recount. Election officials knew exactly how things should have turned out. And that’s the way it ended.

What took place is what Auditor Bob Terwilliger called a logic and accuracy test, which is required by state law before each election. The object is to make certain things are on the up and up.

Observers from both major political parties were on hand Wednesday to make sure things went smoothly and the counting machines were accurate.

"If people are going to be comfortable with elections, then there have to be people there to observe," said Frauna Hoglund, who was representing the Republican Party. "This ballot is not subject to as much error as the punch ballots."

She referred to the punch card system used in at least some Florida counties, where observers spent days trying to figure out voters’ intent by closely examining ballots in hand recounts.

The optical scanners, she added, should give voters confidence.

The test Wednesday took only about 45 minutes.

"It simply verifies that the ballot counting program is accurately reading the responses for the two races we’re counting in all areas of the county," Terwilliger said.

Earlier this week, the eight optical scanning machines were reprogrammed. Konopasek had a pile of test ballots set up to give a predetermined result.

That included replicating common voting errors, such as people not voting for anybody, or voting for more than one candidate in a single race. Those ballots the machines automatically kick out and don’t count.

If the results hadn’t matched the known outcome, Konopasek would have had to do more reprogramming.

Before the general election, there was a more elaborate dry run consisting of more than 6,000 test ballots that included every possible ballot combination of local and state races.

"We test not only the program but the machinery," Konopasek said.

In fact, he found one of the machines needed some cleaning before today’s recount.

Work on the recount has been progressing all week, with election workers hand-counting the ballots and sorting them by precinct. Most of the counting, which starts at 7 a.m., will be complete late tonight.

The remainder will be counted Friday morning, and Terwilliger said his office is scheduled to certify the recount Friday afternoon. The local votes will be added to others from around the state by the Secretary of State’s Office.

The punch-card system was abandoned in Snohomish County in September 1995 when the optical scanners were acquired. Terwilliger said he’s not surprised that the punch-card ballots in Florida have raised controversy. The Florida experience introduced much of the nation to the term "chad," tiny waste paper that’s supposed to be punched out.

"There are so many reasons why those things don’t punch out," Terwilliger said.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A big decision for Boeing’s next CEO: Is it time for a new plane?

As Boeing faces increased competition from Airbus, the company is expected to appoint a new CEO by the end of the year.

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road in Mukilteo. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Mukilteo Speedway name change is off to a bumpy start

The city’s initial crack at renaming the main drag got over 1,500 responses. Most want to keep the name.

Two workers walk past a train following a press event at the Lynnwood City Center Link Station on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Trains up and running on Lynnwood Link — but no passengers quite yet

Officials held an event at the Lynnwood station announcing the start of “pre-revenue” service. Passengers still have to wait till August.

Nedra Vranish, left, and Karen Thordarson, right browse colorful glass flowers at Fuse4U during Sorticulture on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
A promenade through Everett’s popular Sorticulture garden festival

Check out a gallery of the festival’s first day.

Left to right, Everett Pride board members Ashley Turner, Bryce Laake, and Kevin Daniels pose for a photo at South Fork Bakery in Everett, Washington on Sunday, May 26, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Second Everett Pride aims for even bigger rainbow of festivities

Organizers estimated about 3,000 people attended the first block party in Everett. This year, they’re aiming for 10,000.

Everett Herald staff gather and talk in the newsroom after layoff announcements on Wednesday, June 19, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘This breaks my heart’: Over half of Everett Herald news staff laid off

A dozen journalists were handed walking papers Wednesday, in a wave of layoffs mandated by new owners, Carpenter Media Group.

The I-5, Highway 529 and the BNSF railroad bridges cross over Union Slough as the main roadways for north and southbound traffic between Everett and Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Highway 529 squeeze starts now between Everett, Marysville

Following a full closure for a night, starting late Sunday, Highway 529 will slim down to two lanes for months near the Snohomish River Bridge.

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road on Sunday, April 21, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Long live the Speedway! Mukilteo’s main drag won’t be renamed

The public shot down the mayor’s idea to change the name: 77% voted ‘No’ in an online survey, with 95% opposed on Facebook.

Everett
Motorcyclist dies in crash on East Marine View Drive in Everett

Around 8 p.m. Tuesday, a motorcycle and a vehicle crashed into each other at the intersection of 11th street and East Marine View Drive.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Darrington in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Motorcyclist dies in crash on Highway 530

Jeremy Doyle, 46, was riding east near Darrington when he crashed into the side of a car that was turning left.

The Marysville School District office on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘Financially insolvent’ Marysville schools to get unprecedented oversight

Superintendent Chris Reykdal will convene a first-of-its-kind Financial Oversight Committee, he wrote in a letter Tuesday.

Woodside Elementary Principal Betty Cobbs on Monday, June 17, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett’s first Black principal retires after 51 years

In her office, Betty Cobbs kept a black-and-white photo of herself at age 5: “I am right there, with dreams of becoming an educator.”

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.