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Eye On Olympia

Archive for December 2004

Announcement pending…

Dino Rossi has scheduled a press conference tonight, shortly before the 6 o’clock TV news…

All over but the shouting?

Maybe not. The state Republican Party has filed a massive public-records request with King County election officials. The party, it’s attorney says, is concerned about possible “irregularities, errors or perhaps worse in the conduct of this election…So that we may begin gathering information to allow us to decide how to proceed, and how best to investigate our concerns, we are requesting copies of the following records…”

Among them: a list of all King County voters who voted in the Nov. 2 election, including whose vote was counted and whose wasn’t.

Any citizen has until 10 days after Thursday’s certification to challenge the election result.

“Stalling won’t work,” said GOP chairman Chris Vance. “King County will not be allowed to run out the clock on this election.”

And Spokane’s in…

Spokane County just reported the results of its hand-count. Gregoire gained 8 votes, Rossi gained 15, and Bennett gained 3.

So as the state waits for King County to report its results, Rossi has gained a net 8 votes more than Gregoire.

Counting down…

With 37 of 39 counties reporting — that’s everyone but King and Spokane counties, here’s how the recount has changed things so far:
-Christine Gregoire’s gained 553 more votes.
-Dino Rossi’s gained 554.

(Libertarian Ruth Bennett picked up 31.)

Supremes say `no’ to the Democrats…

The state Supreme Court this morning unanimously rejected Democrats’ appeal to reconsider thousands of ballots that had early been ruled invalid.

“No right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws under which, as good citizens, we must live,” the court wrote, citing a previous case. “Nonetheless, we must reject petitioners’ arguments.”

Democrats were hoping to bring back to life hundreds or thousands of absentee and provisional ballots, most of which were rejected because the ballot-envelope signature didn’t match the signature on file with local election offices. Every ballot, Democrats said over and over, should be counted.

But the court agreed with lawyers for the Republican Party and state Secretary of State’s office, saying that a “recount” means exactly that: re-counting ballots that were considered already in the two previous counts.

This deals a blow to the Christine Gregoire campaign, which ended the last count 42 votes behind Republican Dino Rossi. But for the next week, all eyes will be on King County, where election officials yesterday discovered that workers erroneously invalidated 561 valid ballots.

Most or all of those votes will be added to King County’s current tally. And that will likely give Gregoire a boost — and could well reverse the race — since King County votes so far have trended strongly toward Gregoire.

Grant County adds 52 more ballots…

Although Grant County hasn’t reported its results yet — and probably won’t until Tuesday — County Auditor Bill Varney says that 52 more ballots have turned up than in either of the earlier machine counts.

How’d that happen? Nobody’s quite sure. They were apparently absentee ballots, and were spread out among three quarters of the county’s precincts.

“A small group of those must have somehow bypassed the counting machine,” Varney said Tuesday. “That’s why you have recounts.”

But it doesn’t look like the results will change much — the results from the 52 ballots mirrored the percentages each candidate got in the first two counts, he said.

Such discrepancies are turning up in many counties. Kitsap County, which reported results late last night, had 72 extra votes for Gregoire, 82 for Rossi and 7 for Bennett.

Hand-counting turns up more votes…

The hand count in Mason county has turned up extra votes that the counting machines did not catch earlier.

The results: 9 more votes for Christine Gregoire, 12 more for Dino Rossi and 2 less for Libertarian Ruth Bennett.

Breaking news: Court hearing set in gov’s recount case…

The state Supreme Court has scheduled arguments in the case for Monday at 1:30 p.m., according to court staff.

At issue is whether to reconsider thousands of ballots that county election officials had previously ruled invalid, often because the signature on the voter registration form didn’t match the one on the ballot envelope.

The Democrats say some counties checked the signatures diligently — and invalidated thousands — while other counties didn’t bother. Other counties had different deadlines. The Democrats’ case basically boils down to this: Voting standards shouldn’t change from one county to the next.

“Every voter has a fundamental and equal right to have his or her ballot fairly and accurately counted,” reads their lawsuit brief filed with the court.

Republicans say the Democrats are trying to change the rules of the game after they’ve lost.

“The votes have been counted and recounted,” Republican lawyers wrote. “Dino Rossi is the Governor-Elect of the State of Washington. The Washington State Democratic Central Committee and other petitioners have refused to accept the result.”

I know we’ve been writing this for a more than a month now, but…Stay tuned.

This hurts, but keeps us humble…

Much as we hate to, we have to bow to a Seattle Times’ scoop this morning: Christine Gregoire, 42 votes behind in the governor’s race after a count and a recount, told the Times’ David Postman that if Democrats can’t raise enough money to pay for a second statewide recount, she’ll concede the race today (Friday). Weirdly, the state Democratic Party chair said any such concession wouldn’t count, since it’s not legally binding.

Regardless, we think they’ll raise the cash.

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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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