In this week's paper I explain—with numbers and everything!—why moving Washington's ballot deadline from postmarked by Election Day to received by Election Day (like Oregon) would not speed up our election returns. It just wouldn't. Check my math.
And yet, here's Secretary of State Sam Reed once again insisting it would, you know, just BECAUSE!
"It is just logical that if you get those ballots in earlier, you're going to be able to get more meaningful results earlier," Reed said on TVW yesterday. And yes. That does seem quite logical. Except it is a logical assumption that is demonstrably false.
The bottleneck isn't the ballot deadline, it's the ballot processing. We can't get through the backlog of Election Day ballots we already have.
If Reed was familiar with the ballot statistics I presume he'd come to the same conclusion. But then, if Reed was familiar with the ballot statistics he wouldn't have also erroneously asserted on TVW that "Oregon had something like 98 percent of its ballots counted by Friday, the state of Washington 65 percent."
In fact, Oregon had about 95 percent of its ballots counted by Friday, Washington about 88 percent. On that latter number, Reed isn't even close. And Washington could have easily matched Oregon's Friday percentage had our elections workers worked as many shifts as theirs did.
Secretary Reed has a well deserved reputation as a credible and trustworthy public servant, and I in no way mean to doubt his intentions. But his logical assumption is simply not supported by the data, and our media is doing the public a disservice by failing to challenge Reed on the facts.