November 8, 2012

Accuracy Trumped Speed

Filed under: Probable Cause — Bill @ 5:14 pm

Kootenai County Clerk Cliff Hayes sent out a press release explaining the delay in posting Tuesday’s election results online.

As reported in the release, there was a malfunction in the software which translated the tabulators’ results into a format which allowed those results to be posted on the County’s website.  The vote tabulating equipment, the equipment which reads the marked ballots and tabulates the results, performed without malfunction, so the election results were accurately tabulated.

OpenCdA asked Deputy Clerk Pat Raffee if the software malfunction affected only the results we consumers would see online on the County’s website, or did it also affect the Clerk’s ability to report the results accurately to the Secretary of State’s Office.  Deputy Clerk Raffee responded:


“We posted the same results to the Secretary of State that we posted to the website, at almost the same time, as usual.  So the period we had no postings on the website, the SOS got no data from us either; and when we picked back up posting to the website, we sent data to the SOS’s office again.”

So for those who might have been wondering, the software malfunction in Kootenai County on Tuesday night-Wednesday morning did not result in inaccurate information being sent to the Secretary of State’s office.

Accuracy was more important than speed.  That’s as true in reporting the results of the election as in tabulating them.




  1. I once took a test for accuracy and speed. I tested in the top 5% of the nation while most everyone else did not do so well. I stood out in that one particular test while others in my class and nation excelled in other subjects and I failed. I have always wondered if I had learned to go slower how much more efficient I would be … maybe giving myself an extra 5 seconds and I might have tested perfectly or another 10 minutes might have earned myself a higher reading score.

    Some folks cannot take the pressure and they sacrifice accuracy in the name of speed.

    Elections might be compared to a surgery. Would you want the surgeon to just hurry up and close and forget to take out the sponge because he knew he had the media waiting for the results or would you hope he take his time and close properly and make the media and family wait in order to deliver confident results?

    Comment by Stebbijo — November 8, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

  2. Stebbijo,

    Your comparison of election administration to surgery was excellent. In election administration there is no mistake that cannot be corrected to everyone’s satisfaction — right up until the marked ballot has been dropped in the box. That is how poll judges and poll clerks are trained. And as the press release noted, even if a ballot comes in to the elections office and it is damaged during opening or stained, even then there is a procedure in place to make it right.

    It takes a strong County Clerk and an equally strong elections staff to say, “We’re going to do this right even if it takes longer.” The people who scream the loudest about not getting elections results instantaneously would be the first to also scream if an error made in haste was detrimental to their candidate or issue.

    Comment by Bill — November 8, 2012 @ 7:37 pm

  3. I have not seen where anyone has disputed the accuracy of the vote count. To me it is more important to have correct vote totals at 7 a.m. the morning after the close of the polls, than it is to have inaccurate vote totals at 11 p.m., the night of the election. Of course, like most working stiffs, I go to bed before the 11 o’clock news so that I can get up and go to work. It doesn’t upset me, or my work, if I don’t find out who won until break time the morning after the election.

    Comment by up river — November 8, 2012 @ 10:20 pm

  4. It has become a societal problem in America sacrificing accuracy, quality and/or integrity. Why do you think we have tract homes, Kia’s and Walmart? How about the disclaimer at the bottom or just about any contract releasing liability. We have become a nation of “it’s not my fault”.

    Thank you Cliff Hayes and your election team for not following suit of your predecessor.

    Comment by concerned citizen — November 9, 2012 @ 6:01 am

  5. up river and concerned citizen,

    You both made some very good points.

    Too many people, consumers of everything from information to food, have adopted an “I want it now” attitude. Precision and accuracy and quality are being subordinated to immediacy and “close enough”.

    Comment by Bill — November 9, 2012 @ 7:06 am

  6. That’s right Bill, 30 second sound bites, twitter communication and drive-thru fast food. It’s America, and “they” call it progress.

    Comment by Ancientemplar — November 9, 2012 @ 7:33 am

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