Pierce County

At the time of the 2020 general election, Pierce County had 553,765 registered voters. Records show they issued 600,737 ballots, 46,972 more ballots than registered voters. Some of these were replacement ballots for people who lost, damaged, or never recieved their original ballot. The reconciliation report shows 26,419 replacement ballots were issued for the election, 7,779 of which were created online using VoteWA. Read more about VoteWA HERE. So what are the other 20,553 ballots for, if not replacement ballots or for a registered voter?

Drop Box Records

Pierce County has over 16 reports stating they did not check the security seal was intact,  verify the number on the security seal,  empty all the ballots or verify the box was empty.

The following are the names of the drop box locations and the number of ballots reported on the Final Certification Report that were collected from those boxes:

  • Lakewood (pictured) 16,220
  • Kandle Park  15,175
  • Graham  12,589
  • Gig H. Library  12,061
  • Gig H. Fire  10,241
  • Hilltop  5,573
  • Firecrest  3,005
  • Fox Island  1,982

Seal Oath Signatures

When ballots are transferred or stored, they are sealed with a numbered tag. When someone opens the sealed box, or transports the box of voted ballots, they are required to sign a seal oath. We reviewd the seal oaths from Pierce County, and discovered there are at least 150 missing signatures.

Sure, it could be in error. Maybe both people required were present. But why would only one person sign the oath? It’s also possible that there was only one person transporting the voted ballots, or one person openeing the sealed boxes. How do we know that they were not altered, or that some were not discarded?


Pierce county received a grant in the amount of $539,816 from the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) funded largely by Facebook and other power-hungry Big Tech companies.
The tax return of CTCL shows the funds were to “support safe administration of elections during the pandemic.” 
How much hand sanitizer and masks did they really need to conduct our elections by mail, where there is already no contact?

Cares Act Purchases

In addition to the Zucker-bucks the county received, Pierce County used $300,000 of CARES Act funds to purchase a second mail sorter for ballot envelope intake. See the email to the Secretary of State’s office from the election’s supervisor and the breakdown of the costs below.

How much additional money was available to the county elections offices as a result of Covid? How many processes were changed to accomodate the pandemic?


The mail sorter that was purchased with $300,000 CARES Act funds was Agilis, made by Runbeck. It also does signature verification. However it appears there were issues getting everything set up properly. Emails between the county’s election department and Runbeck show there were concerns with the system’s ability to transfer images from the Runbeck’s equipment to VoteWA.  We also have concerns about switching to signature verification by machine instead of by humans. Who programs it, and how can we be sure of it’s accuracy?

Mailbox Voters

202 voters were credited a vote in November’s election who were registered to a mailbox rental location.  These addresses were business locations, ranging from USPS addresses, Post Net, FedEx, and UPS.  There were also some virtual mailbox rentals, where they advertise that they will open and scan your mail and you are able to then manage it virtually.

Since then, it appears many of these people have been removed, or have a new address. Did the county know they were there, and removed them afterwards since they weren’t needed in that district, or to influence a particular race?

We are tracking these names, and following the updates to the registration data. Read more about the mailbox voters HERE.

Western State Hospital

Western State Hospital is a psychiatric facility located in Pierce County. In November 2020, 117 people who were registered at this address were credited a vote.

Washington State law does not prohibit patients from voting, unless a judge issues a court order revoking the right to vote. Is someone taking advantage of these patients?  Do they really reside at the hospital?  Who do you think they voted for?

McNeil Island

14 Voters were credited with a vote who are registered to the address “0 McNeil Island”

McNeil Island is home to violent sex offenders, which by law means they have a “mental abnormality.”  Yet a judge has not ruled that their voting rights should be revoked. So ballots and other election related materials  are delivered to the island ahead of elections, according to the Pierce County election’s supervisor.

Interesting fact about Western State and McNiel Island: Several of the registered voters share the same mailing address of PO Box 88600 Steilacoom, WA 98388. There were also people registered to 4 other addresses using this PO Box as a mailing address.

Adjudicated Ballots

We obtained some event logs from the Clear Ballot system used in the 2020 general eleciton. There were 80,224 entries from the Resolver Tool. The Resolver Tool is Clear Ballot’s program/process for adjudicating ballots.

Pierce was using Clear Vote 2.1, and the resolver tools are recorded a little differently than the 1.5 version. It appears that half of the entries could be for the back side of the ballot. So that would be 40,112 adjudicated ballots in the 2020 general eleciton. That is 8.59% of all the ballots counted in the county.

Display Vote Totals

Also in the logs, it shows someone looked at the vote totals prematurely, which is agains the law. Clear Ballot has a feature which can be turned off and on that allows the system to display the vote totals. This should not be turned on until 8pm on election day. However, the log shows somone turned it on at 6:01pm, and exported a report.

That would be considered tabulation.  The state defines tabulation as making the vote totals readable by a human,  not just a machine. So they “tabulated” the votes before 8 pm. 

Time stamped log entries showing the early viewing of the vote totals

This violates WAC 434-250-110:

(5) Final processing of voted ballots, which may include scanning ballots on an optical scan voting system, may begin after 7:00 a.m. on the day of the election. Final processing may begin after 7:00 a.m. the day before the election if the county auditor follows a security plan that has been submitted by the county auditor and approved by the secretary of state to prevent tabulation until after 8:00 p.m. on the day of the election.

(6) Tabulation may begin after 8:00 p.m. on the day of the election.

Additionally, depending on what they did with the reports that were exported, they possibly also violated 29A.84.730 Divulging ballot count. Which states:

(1) In any location in which ballots are counted, no person authorized by law to be present while votes are being counted may divulge any results of the count of the ballots at any time prior to 8:00 p.m. on the day of the primary or special or general election.

(2) A violation of this section is a gross misdemeanor punishable to the same extent as a gross misdemeanor that is punishable under RCW 9A.20.021. [2011 c 10 § 77; 2003 c 111 § 2139. Prior: 1991 c 81 § 15; 1990 c 59 § 55; 1977 ex.s. c 361 § 85; 1965 c 9 § 29.54.035; prior: 1955 c 148 § 6. For merly RCW 29.85.225, 29.54.035.]

Read about other tabulation concerns HERE.

Ballot Processing

In Washington, as you know, we vote by mail. This means that we have a central tabulation system for the ballots where the ballots are all sent back to the County Auditor’s office, and scanned at a central location. Ballots are scanned as they are received back from the voters. This is a process which spans a time period of several weeks.

Ballots are scanned in batches of 300 in Pierce County. Using data provided by the county from the tabulation system, we recreated a timeline of the votes, and analyzed how they came in. The charts below represent the batches of ballots and are in the same order they were originally processed. They start on October 21st, and end on November 24th.

Margin of Victory Presidential race and Governor’s race

Margin of Victory per Batch

The first chart is showing margin of victory per batch. A blue line going up represents a Democrat victory of that batch, and a red line going down is a Republican batch win. The longer the line, the larger the margin of victory. A short line means that batch was only won by a few votes. Each line represents one batch, in the order they were scanned by the county.

There are 2 races represented in these batch timelines. The darkest blue represents Biden, the darker red represents Trump. The light blue is Inslee, and bright red is Culp.

According to the data, the early ballots were mostly democrat, and republican votes came in later. Between October 20th and the 22nd, the ratio of democrat votes to republican votes was extremely high, especially considering the final totals.

Cumulative Vote Totals

The lower chart is the cumulative vote totals for each candidate of both races. Notice the democrat votes are very close, while Trump appears to have less votes than Culp. The total batch sizes were very close, so the missing Trump votes must have went to to 3rd party candidates, or we had quite a few people voting for Culp and also Biden.

What is interesing is that this is the same across the state, regardless of demographics. Culp was more popular than Trump, and Biden more popular than Inslee.

Another interesting characteristic is the curve of the vote totals. Notice the blue lines appear to lose momentum near the end of the election, and the red lines are opposite, gaining momentum near the end of the election. In other words, the democrat candidates had a quick lead, gained a substantial margin of victory, which later narrowed down and the race finished closer than expected when looking at the early results.

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