Cheating Suspected in Washington Vote

Cheating suspected in vote (Washington Times)

Republicans in Washington state suspect Democrats, with 500 patronage jobs at risk, are cheating in what is now the unprecedented third counting of the 2,883,341 ballots cast in the Nov. 2 election for governor. In the current hand recount, Democrats keep discovering untabulated ballots. The state’s Republicans, who thought they had elected Dino Rossi as the first Republican governor in 20 years, are furious. State Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance says he can’t decide whether Democrat officials in heavily Democratic King County — where uncounted or improperly discarded ballots keep popping up — are “colossally incompetent or completely corrupt.”

“This is the third time King County has added numbers to the pool,” says Rossi spokeswoman Mary Lane. She said that two days before officials were to certify the election, King County announced it had 10,000 more ballots than it had originally thought. During a machine recount, King County announced it had found more than 1,000 additional ballots. Then, on the morning that the state Supreme Court was due to hear oral arguments in a lawsuit over the disputed election, King County said it discovered 561 ballots that had been improperly thrown out. Officials in the Democrat-dominated county later turned up two more batches of ballots in the bottom of boxes. “It’s a troubling pattern,” Miss Lane says.

You think?

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. paladin says:

    Somewhere, former (and now deceased) Chicago mayor, Richard Daley must be smiling (or smirking!).

  2. Rodney Dill says:

    The two choices are not mutually exclusive.

  3. RE Gardner says:

    The King County (Seattle) debacle continues, “colossally incompetent or completely corrupt.” If Gregorie ends up “winning,” she will end up with a state that sees her as the Governor of Seattle.

    The best place to keep up to date on this is the blog Sound Politics, a group blog by middle-of-the-road Republicans.

    This one will be in the courts until someone throws in the towel.

  4. ken says:

    What I don’t understand is the number of conservatives who think that taking office without counting all the votes provides legitimacey. I really wonder about your committment to American values.

    Unlike liberals who are willing to defend the rights of those they disagree with, conservatives tolerate rights, such as voting, only when they further your party’s power.

  5. Curtis D. Love says:

    “Governor of Seattle?” Christine Gregoire got votes from all across the state. But guess what? Counties don’t vote. Cities don’t vote. Square miles don’t vote. People do. If it turns out that she got more votes from more PEOPLE than Dino Rossi (no matter where those people happen to live), she’ll be governor of the STATE. If not, she won’t. Simple.

  6. McGehee says:

    Ken: liberals … are willing to defend the rights of those they disagree with…

    Oh, yeah?

  7. Marc says:

    Ken “Unlike liberals who are willing to defend the rights of those they disagree with, conservatives tolerate rights, such as voting, only when they further your party’s power.”

    Do you mean like Gore in 2000 when he decided the only “fair” way to resolve the Florida vote was to recount only 3 counties? 3 heavly Democratic counties.

  8. dw says:

    Well, welcome everyone. You don’t pay a lick of attention to anything in the upper left hand corner of your map for donkey’s years, but now you decide to show up because state GOP chairman Chris “Godwin’s Law Chief Proof” Vance has finally whined loud enough.

    So, let me walk you through the chaos of the last six weeks.

    — Turnout was an insane 82%, the highest since 1944. That was problem #1.

    — Washington is one of only two states where your absentee vote only needs to be postmarked on Election Day, not actually in the Election Office. Combine that with the free-and-easy absentee rules (you want to vote absentee, then just ask) that led to 60+% of all votes being cast absentee and the monster turnout, and you have a lot of counting to do after the election.

    — Then there are the politics. Rossi ran on a campaign of change, modeling his plan on George Pataki’s. Gregoire ran on… well, nothing. She was the female version of Gary “So Bland That Old People Cover Me In Pepper” Locke, a governor who didn’t understand you’re supposed to spend political capital, not hoard it.

    — And Washingtonians are notorious ticket-splitters. Republican suburbanites voted for Dubya but then turned around and voted for Cantwell, a Dem, for Senate. This time around the suburbs went with Gregoire, but the exurbs were strongly for Rossi. And then there’s the libertarian candidate, a lesbian who was anti-war, pro-pot and pro-gay marriage, who pulled votes away from the Democrat more than from the traditional libertarian-Republican bloc.

    — And the last little kicker: Rossi also has been a strong supporter of state parks. Under Locke, park funding was slashed, entrance fees went way up, and some parks were closed. Rossi said that he’d restore state funding to the park system, earning votes from the normally pro-Dem outdoors lobby.

    So, that gets us to Election Day. The first round had Rossi winning by 261 votes — the closest margin in a governor’s race in 100 years. Around about day 10 or so of the initial count, King County realizes its estimate of ballots cast is way off — there are at least 10K more ballots than estimated. Chris “I’m Darkness At Noon In Living Form” Vance starts whining about “Richard Daley” but gets ignored by all but the most out-there sorts. Meanwhile, Grays Harbor County completely screws up and has to start over. No “Soviet of Aberdeen” from Vance, oddly.

    And oh, did I mention that HAVA was causing a hell of a lot of problems? You know the whole “provisional ballot” thing? Yeah, that works real well. The GOP was asking the eastern counties for lists of contested ballots and getting those voters to go before the canvassing board and prove who they were. The Dems go one further (though have to sue King County to get the lists) and start getting affidavits from the voters… which the Dem operatives are happy to pick up. Yeah. That looks real good, people. The GOP, not to be outdone, starts getting their operatives out to drive these missing voters to the election offices to clarify ballot issues.

    By law, a 261 margin and a .01% MOV triggers a machine recount. So off that goes… and Rossi’s margin, in the end, drops to 42. Lots of changes in punch card and bubble sheet counties. This round, oddly, is pretty quiet, mainly because the resolution was on Thanksgiving week.

    All along both parties had been saying they would go for a hand recount if things didn’t go their way. So, the Dems announce they’re going to pony up… but they have no money to do it. So begins a furious week of pass the hat, during which Chris “I am shocked — SHOCKED — that they would call for a hand recount!” Vance starts trotting out a gaggle of people to say that hand recounts are woefully inaccurate compared to machine recounts. One of these people is King County Election head Dean Logan, a man brought in after the 2002 election (and highly recommended by GOP SecState Sam Reed) after the previous election head completely screwed up the balloting and resigned. Remember what I said — Vance is championing Logan .

    So, somehow, some way, the Dems get the nearly $800K raised for the statewide hand recount, so off we go. Now, the Dems decide that maybe it would be a good idea to have all the previously scrutinized ballots that were tossed by the canvassing board put back into play, so they take it to court… and lose.

    And then, one of the King County board members discovers that his ballot wasn’t counted, and calls the election board to find out what happened.


    Turns out that 573 ballots were supposed to have their signatures cross-checked against the paper registration cards because the electronic signatures didn’t match. They weren’t. They were thrown in the invalid box. King County listed whose ballots weren’t counted online, someone very few of the other counties did. If it hadn’t been for that, this row over the 573 wouldn’t be happening.

    Here’s where we run into one of those chocolate-covered irony moments: Vance starts accusing Dean Logan of corruption. He has no evidence of it, but he just starts mouthing off. Then Rossi starts saying the same thing with a cynical tone. And, suddenly, Washington finally gets some national attention for this goofy-arse election.

    So, where are we… the canvassing board will examine the ballots against the paper records and see if any of them are valid and should be counted. The GOP is threatening everything from lawsuits to legislative override to recall (which requires a court to agree under very strict guidelines). Chris “HELP! HELP! I’M BEING REPRESSED!” Vance spends the day whining on talk radio. And we may never know who really, actually won. Rossi has seen his lead go from 42 up to 74, with the three biggest counties — King, Pierce, and Spokane — to go. (And no one has been off accusing Walla Walla County of rigging the vote.) The King County Election Board is either the most incompetent election board in America or the most incompetent at being corrupt. It’s more than likely the former.

    And the SoundPolitics people have yet to issue an apology to the Libertarians for all the crap they dished out at them during the election season, even now that everyone involved (including the GOP) now thinks it was the Libs who gave the election Nader-style to Rossi. (And, honestly, Rossi is going to win, even if it’s by less than 10 votes.) What a bunch of arrogant fools.

  9. LarryConley says:

    Hmm Well if vote early vote often doesn’t work. I guess Vote late.. keep your job with the state will have to do.

  10. Justin Gates says:

    DWthanks for taking time to write out a description. I hope you ignore the tribal partisan potshots of the small minds. They’re not interested in facts, they won’t reexamine first principles.

    Our voting systems are antiquated and present obstacles to good administration: complex rules poorly explained and the people involved too often give the appearance of corruption and incompetance. Why do we continue to accept this all?

    How come those hosers up in Canada can have a national election with all ballotts counted in a matter of hours and general acceptance of the accuracy of the result. Could it be they have a simple and reliable system?

  11. Sibelius says:

    God, what a bunch of whining losers. Get over it!

    Stupid gay republicans…

    (Not gay as in homosexual, gay as in pussy)