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 — including more than 260 who have signed affidavits — 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.

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. Bithead says:

    The pattern, James has been there since before 2000… the ones where they’re finding these ‘lost’ ballots are invariably dominated by the Democrats.

    That either means Democats as a rule are incredibly incompetant, or, more likely, they are criminal. In my view nobody can fail quite so often without trying.

  2. Davod says:

    The whole idea behind machine conting of votes was to take the propensity for human error/fraud out of the equation. It is my understanding that while there is still an error rate in machine counting it is an impartial error rate, which, while not good, is infinitely better than the sort of error/fraud rate which can creep into manual recounts.

    I think the state government should change the rules to reflect continuing a recount only if the earlier counts change the election from one candidate to another.

  3. ken says:

    James, there is absolutely no way that absentee ballots can be fraudulent. Before the envelope is opened the voters name, adress and signiture is matched and verified against the voter rolls.

    The first problem is that, like the Post Office of yore, these envelopes where misplaced. That they were found and finally counted should be celebrated by both republicans and democrats like. That they were misplaced should be condemmed by all and the process corrected so that this never happens again.

    The second problem is that people like you should know better than to condemn election officials without any evidence of misbehavior at all. Your claim that the process reeks is equivelent to saying that democracy itself reeks. Count the ballots James and whoever gets the most votes wins the election. Your claim that even if it was all perfectly honest and legitimate ‘the other side’ (you incuded?) will still not except the result as legitimate is beneath you. Some whackoes might feel that way. But people who value democracy in all its messiness will understand this as a victory for our system of democracy itself. Each vote counts and if the elction is decided by just one vote then each voter is a kingmaker. Only in America.

  4. James Joyner says:


    There is simply no way to know that these “missing” ballots were “found” rather than created. Are you saying that no election officials anywhere are willing to cheat to ensure that their side won?

    Look at the 2000 results in Florida. To this day, many prominent Democrats believe Al Gore won, despite the fact that he won none of the counts, including the media post-election recounts. When the election is close and then both sides jockey to include some ballots and not others or to “find” new votes, the result will certainly be questioned.

    Regardless of who ultimately wins this race, many people–yes, me included–will be unsure who REALLY won.

    And the tripe about counting all the votes is nonsense. We want to count only LEGITIMATE votes. That is, those that we cast by eligible voters, on time, following the rules established ahead of time. Anything else taints the process.

  5. ken says:

    James, If you have the least shred of evidence that a county worker ‘created’ a missing ballot let’s hear it. If the republicans in Washington has the least bit of evidence I am sure that it would be all over the news. You don’t have any and they don’t have any so why do you bring it up?

    Since each found ballot is contained within an envelope sent by a voter whose name and address are known by both republican and democratic officials why don’t you contact them and ask if they voted. If you find someone who says they never sent in a ballot yet one is claimed for him then you’d have a point. Otherwise you are in tin hat territory with your groundless supositions.