Wednesday, January 12, 2005

OK, maybe I'm obsessed on this one, the Washington State governor's race. It's like Gore winning in 2000--on a small scale. Here's a report from the (shudder!) LA Times from this Saturday past with my comments.

Top Stories - Los Angeles Times

Republican Sues for Washington Revote
Sat Jan 8, 7:55 AM ET

Top Stories - Los Angeles Times
By Sam Howe Verhovek Times Staff Writer

SEATTLE — Brandishing allegations that dead people, felons and other ineligible voters cast ballots in Washington state's close election for governor, the Republican candidate filed a lawsuit Friday, seeking the extraordinary remedy of a new election.

Christine Gregoire, the Democratic state attorney general, last week was declared the winner by just 129 votes of the nearly 2.9 million cast. She will be sworn in Wednesday.

The candidate on the losing end of that certification, former state Sen. Dino Rossi, said he would petition a court for an unprecedented statewide revote, which he called the only way to fix the "certified mess" of the one conducted Nov. 2.

"Most Washingtonians don't believe this has been a valid election," Rossi said at a news conference, where he was joined by former Republican U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton in the call for a new vote. "They want a revote to make sure our state has a legitimate governor," Rossi said.

In the initial count of the results and a mandatory recount, both conducted with machine readers, Rossi was declared the winner — in the latter case by 42 votes. That margin, 0.0015%, made the race one of the closest statewide contests in U.S. history.

But Gregoire, taking advantage of a Washington election-law provision for a statewide hand recount of all the ballots, prevailed in the third round, as roughly 2,000 ballots that were not read by the machines helped her gain her own razor-thin margin of victory. Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed certified the election Dec. 30, but it did not bring legal maneuvering to a close.

In recent days, some Republican poll watchers have emerged to say they saw so-called provisional voters being allowed to cast their ballots directly into the election machines, rather than into special envelopes that should have gone to county election boards to certify the voters' eligibility.

And the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, in stories Friday, reported at least 25 instances of people who died before their absentee ballots were mailed being listed as voting in the election.

[Where do they think this is? Chicago?]

Gregoire said Friday that the election and the recounts had been conducted in a "consummate professional way" and that she saw no evidence of the sort of massive fraud or malfeasance that would be necessary to challenge her victory.

Regarding Rossi's lawsuit, which was filed in conservative-friendly Chelan County, Gregoire said: "I respect the rights of others to file an action in court. That's their right. I have to respect that; I'm the attorney general."

The bizarre race has taken so many twists and turns that nobody seems to know how it will wind up.

Some political experts here said it was striking how the two sides had reversed their roles — when Rossi was ahead, Republicans called on Democrats to accept the results and "move on." Gregoire and her supporters, planning for an inauguration ceremony in Olympia that Republicans may boycott, are now essentially saying the same thing to the Rossi camp.

Lance T. LeLoup, a political science professor at Washington State University, said that Gregoire seemed to hold the upper hand both legally and politically and that the Republican idea of a revote could set a dangerous precedent.

"They're doing more to undermine public confidence in the election system than the election did itself," LeLoup said of the Republicans and their lawsuit. "No matter what they say now, the fact is it is coming across as totally contrary to what the Republicans said about Bush in 2000 and what they said when Rossi was ahead in the count. There's an element of sore-loserism to it."

But former Sen. Gorton aid there was an element of fair play at issue: "The number of votes cast — questionably, illegally or mistakenly — is vastly in excess of 129 votes, the margin by which this election was certified."

The thicket of issues raised in the lawsuit could take weeks to untangle, but it might lead a judge in Chelan County to issue an injunction blocking the inauguration, which is what some Republicans seem to be hoping for. If an injunction were in effect, it is not clear who would serve as the state's governor.

But for now, Gregoire remains scheduled to take the oath of office. She also dismisses the revote proposal as "absolutely ludicrous."

The Seattle newspapers found explanations for some of the dead voters.
In one case, a man, who could now be subject to prosecution, told the Post-Intelligencer that he had followed his dying wife's wishes on how she would have wanted her ballot cast, even though she died Sept. 29. She voted — or rather he voted, twice — for Rossi.

"At the time, I really thought, honestly, it wasn't going to make a difference — this one vote — but it was going to make a difference for her," Robert Holmgren told the paper. "Who would ever guess the vote was going to be that close?"

OK. My thoughts:

1. Memo to Dino: They stole it, but it's time to act more like John Thune than Al Gore.
2. No revotes/do-overs. This is not a playground, or the UN (often indistinguishable from one another).
3. See my earlier post from January 1; there's no doubt this is a stolen election.

No comments: