Washington Voters Tired and Suspicious

Recounts and Partisan Bickering Tire Washington Voters (NYT)

Washington voters, confused by the bizarre turn of events in the excruciatingly close race for governor after more than seven weeks of vote counting, legal wrangling and partisan battling, are starting to sound quite flustered.


Other voters said the close results and newly found and erroneously rejected ballots here in King County, the state’s most populous and strongly Democratic county, made them deeply suspicious of the integrity of the election process and left them wondering if the results from previous close elections were accurate.

In the governor’s contest, Ms. Gregoire, 57, the state attorney general, had been favored to win comfortably, but as her opponent surged in the final days of the campaign he managed to prevail by one of the narrowest margins in state history, 261 votes. The closeness of the contest led to an automatic statewide machine recount, which put Mr. Rossi, 45, a former state senator and real estate agent, ahead by only 42 votes.

Democrats then requested a second recount, which they are entitled to under the law, this one by hand. It was during that recount, which began in early December, that King County elections officials announced that they had erroneously rejected 573 ballots because election workers failed to locate their signatures on registration cards on file. Then King County elections officials, who have been criticized for mistakes in this and previous elections, said they had found an additional 150 ballots that had not been counted at all.

The county went to court to have those ballots included in the tally during the hand recount, and ultimately won their case in the State Supreme Court last week. That was a major victory for Democrats because until those votes were allowed, Ms. Gregoire was ahead in the hand recount by only 10 votes. Even with the final recount allowed under the law putting her ahead by 130 votes out of almost 3 million cast, it was one of the closest elections in the nation’s history.

Juliya Golant, 23, voted for the first time on Nov. 2, for Ms. Gregoire, and hers was one of the 573 disputed ballots in King County, according to election records that made public the names of the 573 voters. Ms. Golant said that she received notice that election officials had trouble verifying her signature and that Democratic Party election workers had tried to contact her five or six times to have her complete an affidavit showing her signature was valid. “My signature has always been the same,” she said. “They came back every weekend, until they caught me at my house last weekend,” Ms. Golant said. She said she did not know if her vote had ultimately been counted because not all of the 573 ballots were deemed valid in King County, but she did find herself wondering if she could trust a system that had such problems and in which the results were so close and then turned upside down.

“The system begins to lose credibility,” said Ms. Golant, who lives in Shoreline and works in an optometry office. “Because when it has to be recounted and recounted and then it’s challenged and has to be recounted again, really, is it a popularity contest or is it an actual system that works?” She added: “Realistically, I think that what most people want is for the person being nominated to just do the job. When there’s this much holdup in who the person is, I think issues get lost. I think they should figure it out and move on. It would be nice to know who the governor is, and it would be nice for them to start doing their job.”

Indeed. It appears Ukraine’s election is going to be more legitimate than this one.

FILED UNDER: 2004 Election, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. ken says:

    “It appears Ukraine’s election is going to be more legitimate than this one.”

    James, given your apparent lack of understanding that in America we expect every vote to be counted, I wonder if you are in any position to comment on Ukraine’s election.

  2. notherbob2 says:

    Ken is obviously a smug liberal gloating over the final outcome. Ken, given your lack of understanding that in America we don’t expect every vote to be counted three times, I wonder if you are in any position to comment on James’ comment.

  3. ken says:

    notherbob2, what is wrong with counting some votes two, three, or more times? They don’t change the outcome. What is important is that votes that Americans cast but where mistakenly not originally counted be counted as well. What makes this a great country is each citizen’s vote counts for something and can make a real difference in close elections.

  4. Attila Girl says:

    And what makes it really great is that if you’re a Democrat, you can have faith that your party won’t hesistate to manufacture however many votes you need to win.

  5. Justin Gates says:

    It is really really rich attila girl for someone to accuse the Democrats of stealing votes when that is exactly what the GOP has done in OH & FL: an amazing example of doublethink.
    The GOP has cheated, lied and stolen votes because that’s the only way they can win. Y’all did a much better job this time too. The Ohio Sec State / Bush Campaign Manager and the CEO of Diebold Voting Machines said they were going to deliver Ohio and they did, no matter what. The U.S. electoral system is rotten: a corrupt Duopoly completely divorced from the Founders expressed sentiments and representitive only of monied vested interests.

  6. McGehee says:

    It is really really rich attila girl for someone to accuse the Democrats of stealing votes when that is exactly what the GOP has done in OH & FL

    Your certainty that votes were stolen in those places may be valid, but misdirected. The only reports of efforts to commit actual vote fraud had to do with Democrats registering nonexistent people, not Republicans.

    If there was vote-stealing in Florida and Ohio as you say, Bush won those states in spite of it.

  7. anjin-san says:

    Ah, so you are only interested in ligitimate elections, like, say the 2000 presedential election.