Washington Voters Tired and Suspicious
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.