"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.