Patterico's Pontifications


Proof That John McKay’s Investigation of Voter Fraud Was Woefully Inadequate

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:50 pm

Back in March, I said:

John McKay in Washington is the U.S. Attorney who said: “There was no evidence” of voter fraud in the 2004 Governor’s election. Stefan Sharkansky has done yeoman’s work on this issue, and has solid evidence of improper ballots counted. That by itself doesn’t show fraud, but Stefan alleges that election officials made false public statements about the improperly counted ballots, and further contends that records were altered to make the improper votes appear to be genuine votes . . . If Stefan is right, it sounds like at least enough to investigate further. Stefan doesn’t think McKay looked at all of his evidence.

Wouldn’t you like to know whether Stefan is right? Wouldn’t you like to know how McKay came to the conclusion that there is “no evidence” of voter fraud? Wouldn’t it be great if Stefan could confront McKay directly and find out what evidence McKay looked at?

Well, he did.

In a post that deserves to be linked by every blog concerned about the U.S. Attorney story, Stefan has detailed an interview that he did with McKay, in which he asked him these questions. Takeaway quotes from Stefan’s post:

McKay’s statements about the absence of evidence of a crime have been trumpeted by partisan Democrats and many in the media to suggest that he thought that the election was just fine. But he clarified on Sunday that “there was no evidence” means one thing, but that he won’t say “there was no crime committed.” And he stated some personal opinions on the election that he refrained from saying as the U.S. Attorney. He said he “didn’t like the way the election was handled”, describing it using phrases such as “incompetence”, “troubling”, “smelled really, really, bad” and “stinky, nasty”. He commended me for researching the irregularities, agreed with me that there needs to be a review of the processes that allowed the illegal votes to be counted, and said that he and I were “kindred spirits” in believing that state election laws “didn’t serve us very well”.

So, despite the fact that there was a stench around the election, McKay thinks there was “no evidence” of voter fraud. Exactly how he reached this conclusion is illuminating and disappointing:

He explained in the interview that the threshold of evidence he was looking for was for an informant to come forward with an eyewitness account of a conspiracy to change the outcome of the election. Short of that, he would not even send FBI agents to interview election officials about illegal ballots. That is an extraordinarily high, and I would argue, unreasonable, hurdle to overcome. Clearly there can be serious crimes by individuals which do not constitute a conspiracy yet corrupt the election, and there can be serious crimes that no eyewitness would ever come forward on his own to report.

In a nutshell, McKay wanted a confession (or at least an informant) before he would even investigate. This means that there was evidence his “investigation” didn’t even consider, including (surprise, surprise) Stefan’s:

It was only months after the trial that I managed to uncover, through public records requests, the documentary evidence that county election officials counted nearly 500 illegal votes, which were not known to the court. I showed McKay a few examples of the illegal votes that I uncovered. He called this information “troubling”, and acknowledged that he had not been aware of it. Of course, some or all of these 500 illegal votes could have been tabulated through mere garden-variety negligence and not out of criminal intent. However, it is highly unlikely that anybody can establish whether there was criminal intent without sending an investigator to interview the election workers involved.

The 500 votes, by the way, isn’t chump change. Stefan notes that 500 votes is

nearly 4 times the 133-vote margin of “victory” in the governor’s race.

So you have a U.S. Attorney who thought the election stank, but still waited for a confession or an informant before investigating — and consequently was unable to uncover hundreds of illegal votes that a single blogger managed to uncover in his spare time, with public records act requests. Then he announces to the press that there was “no evidence” of voter fraud.

Pathetic. Simply pathetic. He didn’t deserve to keep his job.

55 Responses to “Proof That John McKay’s Investigation of Voter Fraud Was Woefully Inadequate”

  1. Thanks for covering this. Stefan has been doing an awsome job on this here in the northwest. It needs wider coverage.

    huey (0701e7)

  2. I sent the link to every blogger I could think of who might be interested. I think it’s great, great work he’s done.

    Patterico (eeb415)

  3. He has done a great job, Pat, but you know that the answer will be: why spend all this time, effort and money into something that never ever happens?

    Dan Collins (1e2e08)

  4. “looking” should have been in there. But it’s a measure of reality-basedness that one believes that the oligo-Zionists were behind 9/11 and Cuba’s health care system is the envy of the planet, but nobody could possibly mean to abuse a system that invites abuse and virtually never punishes it. Kinda like CIA leaks, come to think of it.

    Dan Collins (1e2e08)

  5. Any particular reason we should consider Stefan Sharkansky to be credible and reliable?

    James B. Shearer (fc887e)

  6. I’ve known him for a while, but you can look at his extensive evidence on his site if you have any doubts about the veracity of his claims. He has links to everything, so why don’t you follow a few of them?

    Patterico (eeb415)

  7. Nah, you’re right, James. He’s prolly just fabricated all of the stuff in the interview, because he figured that McKay wouldn’t be able to come up with a credible alibi to defend himself if he found out about the post.

    Dan Collins (1e2e08)

  8. But its so much easier to conclude that Sharansky is not credible if one avoids actually looking at his evidence, patterico.

    Robin Roberts (6c18fd)

  9. There was kind of a stalker vibe coming form Sharkansky during the interview…”here, take my evidence…take it!”

    alphie (015011)

  10. But its so much easier to conclude that Sharansky is not credible if one avoids actually looking at his evidence, patterico.

    This is exactly what McKay did. Creative avoidance, and shrinking away, and public pronouncements of helplessness, and bewailing the lack of a signed confession instead of engaging.

    Worse, Stefan’s photographic evidence was, and is, clear and convincing. Likewise the the data-mining he did, after wresting the ‘public’ vote tabulations from King County by lawsuit, since they would not make them available to Stefan’s part of the public without such legal action.

    You’d think that the local news organs would have taken an interest, but they no more speak truth to power in Seattle than they did under Saddam Hussein.

    Hank Bradley (01397c)

  11. Patterico,
    I’ll ask a question that is not meant to be accusatory, but de facto is: While you label the handling of this issue as “pathetic”, was it “so pathetic” as to raise the issue of an intentional refusal to investigate, i.e. some kind of willful obstruction of justice?
    Again,not trying to be accusative. Sometimes people make bad decisions for a number of reasons. Sometimes what looks like a bad decision was influenced by extenuating circumstances. Sometimes people just would be better at doing something else. Then again, some things are so out of the norm that they defy explanation unless one looks to gross incompetence or purposeful mishandling. This is probably a question you won’t care to comment on, but us non-prosecutors don’t know how to put it in perspective, other than knowing “it was pathetic”.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  12. I think that his point is that what’s been presented as an investigation that failed to turn anything up was really nothing of the kind. The fact that there wasn’t any real attempt at investigation given his answers in Stefan’s interview is also pathetic.

    It’s all right, though. Vote fraud only screws those who weren’t victorious, and they are in the minority, after all.

    Dan Collins (1e2e08)

  13. Looks like the Washington governor’s race was certified by a Republican secretary of state, dan.

    Sour grapes, maybe?

    alphie (015011)

  14. It was certified; is that the point? Or isn’t the point rather that allegations of voter fraud, particularly when they may have affected the outcome of a race, ought to be vigorously investigated and vigorously punished, in all instances, regardless of party, in order to preserve the integrity of the ballot?

    Dan Collins (1e2e08)

  15. Is that irony, Dan?

    alphie (015011)

  16. Is that a rhetorical question, alphie? Have you read the evidence, or is this going to be one of those Marcottist arrangements wherein it doesn’t matter?

    I’ll tell you what. Why don’t we just have an arrangement where those who have historically been underrepresented at the voting booth have some fractional value beyond one added to their vote, in order to help overcome the inequity?

    Dan Collins (1e2e08)

  17. Alphie #13,

    In Washington State, election results are reported by the local County Auditors to the Secretary of State. Article III, Section 4, of the Washington State Constitution directs the Secretary of State to deliver those results to the Speaker of the House, and further provides that contested elections are decided by the Legislature. The Secretary of States’ role is purely ministerial.

    Nice try, though.

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  18. Generally, in my world, which is the working end of McKay’s world, if you want evidence of a conspiracy, the first step is to send invesitgators to INTERVIEW PEOPLE WHO MIGHT HAVE BEEN INVOLVED.

    McKay was too busy running around the country trying to bet other jurisdictions and agencies interested in the information sharing system that he was orgasmic about.

    WLS (077d0d)

  19. I wish I knew why Roadrunner up here is blocking SoundPolitics. Used to check it 2-3 times a day during the ’04 nonsense. I should probably email them about it, but getting info out of those people is like pulling teeth.

    Taltos (c99804)

  20. Well that’s odd, the site has been unreachable for at least a year and I just check it now for the hell of it and it loads up.

    Taltos (c99804)

  21. DRJ,

    If Reed couldn’t do anything about the election…why was Sharkansky considering a recall of him?

    Poor knowledge of Washington’s election laws?

    alphie (015011)

  22. Alphie, did you even read the post you linked to?

    My disappointment with Sam Reed is less over the specific disputed ballots mentioned in the article, than over the fact that he seems to be more interested in covering the rear ends of his office and the county elections officials than he is in acknowledging and fixing the massive meltdown of the elections system he’s responsible for.

    Was that not plain enough English for you or something?

    Taltos (c99804)

  23. You left out the best quote, tal:

    “My own limited time and attention is currently focused on the election contest and the (likely, I believe) subsequent revote campaign.”

    Only about 19 more months until the (likely) revote rolls around.

    alphie (015011)

  24. […] Let’s get it on the record, and settled once and for all. And while we’re at it, let’s shine a little light on some real voter fraud. […]

    The Anchoress » Blog Archive » Let’s do it; let’s Impeach Bush (22ef8f)

  25. You left out the best quote, tal:

    I have no clue what you’re getting at, you start whining about Stefan contemplating a recall campaign and then come up with a quote saying he’s busy with the court case at the moment. You do realise that that post is only 2 months after the election right?

    Taltos (c99804)

  26. I’ll give you this much, Patterico. This looks like something that seems fair to be initially concerned about.

    However, let’s keep in mind the following:

    a) Washington State is your absolute best-case scenario – an extraordinarily, freakishly close race.

    b) even you’re not alledging that McKay deliberately ignored Democratic-inspired voter fraud. (Why would he? He’s a Republican.) You’re just unhappy with his aggressiveness. But he didn’t have 21 months, like Stefan did. The election result can’t be indefinitely postponed, anymore than the shady stuff in Florida allowed Gore to ask for a 12-month evidentiary review.

    c) Stefan has compiled a list of odd/erroneous ballots. He hasn’t compiled evidence of fraud. How unusual is it to have 500 mistakes in an election with millions of votes? Really? And how many of those complied votes he lists
    are for Democrats, and how many are for Republicans? He doesn’t even say.

    d) The number is down to 350 in that chart Stefan uses, and we don’t know what the Republican/Democratic breakdown is.

    Anyway, this is – at very best – a veneer of credibility for firing McKay. Not a good reason to do it either, just a semblance of a logical reason. It’s nothing whatsoever like a demonstration that voter ‘fraud’ is an underreported national problem. It’s 350 erroneous ballots.

    glasnost (ea1d7a)

  27. Quoting Stefan himself:

    Of course, some or all of these 500 illegal votes could have been tabulated through mere garden-variety negligence and not out of criminal intent..

    Frankly, I don’t disagree with Stefan that the feds could have investigated this more closely. And if that investigation actually gave Wash State governor back to the Repubs, so be it. I seriously doubt there was any deliberate fraud here, but let the truth come out.

    This is an outlier as far as the US attorney scandal goes, though. The Bush Admin would cr*p its pants to have this kind of a semi-legitimate excuse for the rest of its crew of firings, but they don’t.

    glasnost (ea1d7a)

  28. there was a big stench around the 2004 presidential election too, amigo, washington state was just a tiny consolation prize for washington, d.c.

    assistant devil's advocate (004de9)

  29. Am I missing something here?

    Isn’t your vote anonymous?

    Even if you identified people who had voted illegally, how could you subtract their votes from the total?

    alphie (015011)

  30. […] Let’s get it on the record, and settled once and for all. And while we’re at it, let’s shine a little light on some real voter fraud. […]

    A Second Hand Conjecture » Calling Their Bluff (f55714)

  31. Alphie #21,

    I’ll gladly defer to your knowledge of Washington State election law if you live in that State and/or have special expertise in the subject. I based my comment on internet sources that describe the Washington State Secretary of State as having a ministerial function regarding certification of elections (as opposed to the election procedures themselves), and that description is supported by the specific language of the Washington State Constitution.

    I also reviewed Washington State election law statutes that provide the Secretary of State is responsible for overseeing the election procedures, as implemented by the County Auditors. Thus, if there is widespread unhappiness among conservatives with Secretary of State Reed, it strikes me that it may be due to Reed’s refusal to rein in the County Auditors as opposed to objections because certified the gubernatorial election. I don’t know which is correct but the link you provided suggests the former and not the latter.

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  32. Alphie #29,

    If there is evidence of fraud, it seems to me there are at least three ways to remedy it:

    You could subtract specific votes if they were conditional or provisional votes.

    You can order a recount if there is a more widespread irregularity.

    If the irregularity is pervasive, you could hold a new election.

    DRJ (2d5e62)

  33. You might want to look at irregularities in (say) voting machine totals in Ohio 2004 to compare to the magnitude of Sharkansky’s work. link, link, link (votes counted in secret, Bush got 72 percent)

    Why, as the GOP said in Florida and Ohio, occasional anomalies in elections are just the rub of the green. And Sharkansky’s evidence, for whatever it may be worth, is certainly the smallest number of votes at issue.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (a98486)

  34. AJL what do you mean anomalies. If the guy found evidence of fraud that is not an anomaly.

    davod (3392f5)

  35. Am I missing something here?
    Isn’t your vote anonymous?
    Even if you identified people who had voted illegally, how could you subtract their votes from the total?

    And now you see why it’s essentially impossible to contest an election in washington state.

    Taltos (c99804)

  36. Andrew–

    First of all, the 72% refers to the percentage of Ohio voters who used the same kind of machine used in Florida, you lying sack of shit (or retard; take your choice). Second, we haven’t seen the mechanism of the Edison poll. Please produce (because I’m skeptical that the Laphamites at Harpers really know squat about mathematics).

    Third, is it not possible for you to bring a Freedom of Information suit to get those ballots? If you want evidence, go and get it.

    Dan Collins (1e2e08)

  37. Rise off your feckin’ ass, Lazarus.

    Dan Collins (1e2e08)

  38. I took the Warren County (that’s where they closed the counting) results from this site, but sometimes you don’t get good information from Google. So I looked further. The 72 percent for Bush figure also appears here, which appears to be the official Warren County election site.

    Your turn, Mr. Collins.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (a98486)

  39. Thanks, that’s better.

    However, you’ll notice that all the national candidates score better than Bush. Can you find in statistics regarding the party affiliation of voters in that district?

    Dan Collins (1e2e08)

  40. I mean the Republican national candidates.

    Dan Collins (1e2e08)

  41. Hmmm. Well, here’s from the voting tabulation, raw numbers affiliated:

    Democrats 12370
    Republicans 38467
    None 125165

    So, let’s assume for the sake of argument that the nonaffiliates break out roughly along the lines of the affiliates (Libertarians, 9, and Reform, 3, being almost negligible). For the sake of argument, doesn’t Bush’s 72% look suddenly notsogood?

    Dan Collins (1e2e08)

  42. alphie says…

    …How unusual is it to have 500 mistakes in an election with millions of votes?…

    I remember his analysis as the lawsuits were filed was much more detailed. look here as an example. Most of the problems centered in King and Pierce Counties.

    Or that Rossi won on the machine recounts see here and in the first count

    If memory serves it wasn’t until a couple of boxs were found floating around in King County and 6 weeks of legal arguments that Gregoire won.


    RichatUF (7e5073)

  43. I would have thought, Mr Collins, that retraction of your comments 36 and 37 would be a prerequisite to meaningful colloquy with you. For example, your claim about the meaning of 72 percent was wrong.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (51ea5d)

  44. Sorry, it seemed to me that you meant to support it with the connecting link, so I hereby retract the imputation of lying shit-sackiness or mental/moral retardation. I will maintain a charge of obliquity.

    It was the only 72% in your links.

    Dan Collins (1e2e08)

  45. 2004 Washington Governor Election Redux…

    Stefan Sharkansky (via Patrick Frey via Pejman Yousefzadeh) has some rather persuasive evidence that John McKay, the recently fired U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, did an amazingly sloppy job of investigating allegations of . . . …

    Outside The Beltway | OTB (30d6b6)

  46. […] Let’s get it on the record, and settled once and for all. And while we’re at it, let’s shine a little light on some real voter fraud. […]

    WetWorx » Blog Archive » Lets Impeach Bush! (9eeb68)

  47. glasnost:

    [W]e don’t know what the Republican/Democratic breakdown is.

    Is there any way of estimating this? E.g. for each precinct multiply the number of illegal votes by the fraction that voted for each candidate to estimate totals. This obviously wouldn’t be conclusive, but it would be suggestive (at least assuming the issue is negligence/oversight not fraud on the part of election officials).

    Crust (399898)

  48. How unusual is it to have 500 mistakes in an election with millions of votes? Really? And how many of those complied votes he lists
    here are for Democrats, and how many are for Republicans? He doesn’t even say.

    Many of the cases compiled by Sharkansky were cases where ballot envelopes etc. were marked “fatal pend” (uncountable due to improper registration, fail to sign, etc.) by election workers, but the supervisors ordered them to be counted anyway.

    The votes are anonymous, and we don’t register by party either.

    There were a couple of other issues with the election that haven’t been mentioned here. On 12 different occasions during the recount, election workers “found” new batches of ballots that had not been counted previously and counted those. And the other problem was that there were many, I believe on the order of tens of thousands, more votes counted than there were ballots.

    Vatar (bb1678)

  49. Crime was done in WA state, King County.

    A couple of times, IIRC, Sharkansky had to threaten to sue King County in order to get information from them. And when it came out, it was sadly lacking.

    The details (I followed for quite a while) were eye-popping.

    A reliable swarm of Leftists angrily decried his every post.

    This AG should have been fired in 2004 for gross derilection of duty.

    Bostonian (8b73a9)

  50. Another significant issue in this election was the fraud committed by the King County Elections office in reporting to the certifying panel. On the mail ballot report the elections office was required to state the number of ballots received, counted, accepted, and rejected. The county elections office lost accountability of the absentee ballots and couldn’t figure out how many they had actually received and counted so they simply added up the number accepted and the rejected to give the impression they had counted all the votes. The country election’s director knew that and he told the county auditor, but he failed to inform the other two members of the panel who voted to accept it. That report was then forwarded to the Secretary of State with an affidavit stating under oath the numbers on the reports were accurate to the best of the knowledge of the county auditor. That was clear fraud on King County’s part but they did it because they knew if they told the truth (that they had no idea if they had actually counted all the ballots or not at the end of the third recount which overturned the election results) there was no way the legislature could have voted to certify the results.

    King County focused their manual recount canvasing efforts on those districts with heavily democratic majorities and ignored districts with republican majorities to harvest enough votes to take the governor’s race away from the republican candidate who had one the initial and machine recounts. They knew exactly how many votes they needed because the Secretary of States office demanded all counties turn in results as early as possible and then posted the results. King Country reported after all other countries had finished.

    King county also deliberately deceived the court during the election contest by avoiding admitting that they had counted fatal pend ballots (which was a violation of state election law) at the direction of the elections director. If they had nothing to hide why did they conceal that from the court and the public for so long?

    There were also numerous instances where there were more votes cast than counted (almost all republican distracts) and more votes counted than cast (almost all democratic districs) that lead many reasonable people to conclude that there was a deliberate effort to throw the election on the part of the King County elections’ office.

    Ranger (fc7c50)

  51. It was admitted in court by county officials that they did NOT follow the law in screeening and tabulating the votes. The judge said that the situation stank but there was nothing legal he could find wrong with it.

    I do not see how it could have been clearer that an investigation was needed.

    The evidence cited by this article was only one of many instances where the rules were not followed.

    Elmo (4d88c9)

  52. […] bow to Deputy District Attorney Patrick Frey’s superior legal analysis of the McKay case. So you have a U.S. Attorney who thought the election stank, but still waited […]

    What does it take? at Hoystory (f2fa8b)

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  54. […] And while we’re at it, let’s shine a little light on some real voter fraud. […]

    Go ahead, impeach Bush; try him | The Anchoress (fd6805)

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