Democrats Claim Washington Governorship
Democrats: Gregoire wins by 8 votes (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
Democrat Christine Gregoire will defeat Republican Dino Rossi by eight votes in the governor’s race recount when King County reports results today, state Democratic Party Chairman Paul Berendt said last night. “We are absolutely confident that she is going to be the next governor of the state of Washington,” Berendt said. Both parties have been provided with daily tallies of the county’s manual recount. Berendt said those updates and results from the county canvassing board’s review of unclear ballots provided the data he needed to call the race.
King County elections officials said Berendt’s victory claim was premature and that the data the parties are seeing hasn’t been reconciled. “I’m not going to call the election tonight,” said King County Elections spokeswoman Bobbie Egan. Mary Lane, a spokeswoman for Rossi, said, “All we know is it’s close, and we’re still crunching numbers.” King County will be the last of Washington’s 39 counties to report results in the hand recount of 2.8 million votes.
If Gregoire does win the statewide hand recount, it will mark an incredible turnaround for the attorney general. She had faced pressure to concede after losing the original tally by 261 votes and the mandatory machine recount by 42 votes. In the hand recount, Rossi was leading by 49 votes with only King County left to report its results, which consist of about 900,000 ballots.
This was such an incredibly close election that we’ll likely never know who actually received the most legitimate votes. The process, however, simply reeks. The Democrats keep “finding” previously uncounted ballots in precincts they control and, coincidentally, the last county to turn in its results is one controlled by Democrats. Even if the recount is being handled with the greatest integrity, there will be no way the the ultimate winner of this will be perceived as legitimate by the other side.
Ultimately, this raises questions about the recount concept itself. In, say, a county sheriff’s race, hand recounts of close races make perfect sense. There is a relatively small number of ballots to count from a limited geographical area and it can be done quickly under tight scrutiny of both sides. In a state-wide race, though, neither of these are true. Even if no stacks of previously uncounted ballots are discovered and there are no suspicions of wrongdoing, having one count come out differently than the first one–let alone the first two–raises the legitimate question of which count was right.
Update (1029): Not so fast, say the Republicans.
If the court allows King County to count those ballots, Republicans vow, they will push to revive hundreds of ballots tossed out by other, more Republican-friendly counties. “If they change the rules, then we’re going to aggressively fight by the new rules,” said state Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance.
Vance said the Republicans know of about 500 people statewide Ã¢€” including more than 260 who have signed affidavits Ã¢€” who say they voted for Rossi but their ballots were rejected because of signature mismatches or other problems. The party said yesterday it has heard from several members of the military, including some serving in Iraq, who say they wanted to vote but did not receive ballots in time. Vance said the party will fight to get all of those votes counted if the Supreme Court allows King County to tally its previously rejected ballots. “If they can bring in theirs from King County, we’ll be going back to every county auditor and saying ‘Let’s start it all over again,’ ” Vance said.
“The Supreme Court needs to bring some order to this process.” Vance has alleged that the King County canvassing board, which is made up of two Democrats and one Republican, is making partisan decisions that benefit Gregoire.
What a mess. I must say, though, that soldiers not getting ballots in time to vote–a travesty that needs to be rectified if true–should not have an impact on the election results. If they didn’t vote on time, they didn’t vote.