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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

GOP keeps up pressure for revote

State Republican Chairman Chris Vance is hitting the road in the party’s effort to keep hope alive for a new governor’s election while attorneys start sparring over the rules for a possible trial over a revote.

“Dino Rossi is not giving up, and neither are we,” Vance told about two dozen Republicans who gathered Thursday before a press conference at Spokane’s Davenport Hotel.

A new election might not be the best solution, but “it’s better than where we are today,” he said in an interview.

Thursday was the first day of the administration of Democrat Christine Gregoire, who beat Republican Rossi by 129 votes in a final hand recount of the Nov. 2 election and was sworn in Wednesday as the state’s 22nd governor.

Attorneys for the state Democratic Party had filed a request to take part in the lawsuit the Republicans filed last week in Chelan County Superior Court seeking a revote.

Republicans allege a wide range of problems and irregularities in counting the ballots and verifying that voters were properly identified and registered. In a meeting with The Spokesman-Review editorial board Thursday, Vance contended the party will find thousands of mistakes and problems.

“I don’t think there was an organized effort to steal this election,” Vance said. “I do think there were hundreds of cases of individual fraud.”

That would include “more than 100” people who marked, signed and mailed in absentee ballots for voters who had died, Vance later said, and felons who voted even though they lost that right by committing a crime and never had it restored. He said he couldn’t estimate yet how many of each problem there might be, but that would become clear as they gathered evidence for trial, a process called discovery.

Republicans have asked the judge to order faster than normal – or expedited – discovery.

Democrats countered this week that the judge shouldn’t do that, because the only way to find out some of these things is to get the information from elections officials in each of the state’s 39 counties, and many of those counties are busy getting ready for special elections in February. Besides, Democrats argue, the Republicans should already have the proof, not use the court for a “fishing expedition” in an unprecedented attempt to toss out a sitting governor.

They want the court to decide whether it’s even legal to have a revote before gathering evidence for the trial.

Republicans countered that by arguing against expedited discovery, Democrats are trying to drag things out. And while Democratic lawyers are questioning whether the court can even be involved, Democratic legislators argued the court was the proper place to settle the dispute when they certified Gregoire’s election, Vance said.

A hearing on whether to speed up the discovery process is scheduled for next Thursday morning in Wenatchee. If a trial is eventually ordered, Vance estimated it could be completed in “a month or less,” and the loser would almost certainly appeal. If the state Supreme Court would hear and decide the case quickly, and agree that a revote is the right solution, Washington could hold another gubernatorial election in April.

But Vance said the state should wait at least 45 days after any such order, because that’s how long it takes to get absentee ballots to troops overseas – and one of the Republicans’ many complaints is that some soldiers, sailors and Marines didn’t get their general election ballots until after Nov. 2.

If Republicans lose at the state Supreme Court, they “haven’t ruled out” filing a separate claim in federal court, Vance said. Asked if he would object if Democrats went to federal court should they lose at the state Supreme Court, Vance replied he didn’t think they would have a federal claim.

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