Thursday, December 23, 2004

A Democracy In Distress First: A. F. Litt sides with Republicans on Washington State recount issue

A new wrinkle in Washington… Two victories for the Democrats.

Yesterday, the state Supreme Court ruled that those ballots in question in King County, a Democrat stronghold, can be counted.

As if to spike the ball, Democrat Contender Christine Gregoire pulled ahead by 10 votes anyway. All that is left to count are 735 disputed ballots in King County. Unless these ballots go for Dino Rossi, which is highly unlikely since King County, in the initial count, went 58% for the Democrat (65% for Kerry in the Presidential race), the Democrats will retain the govenorship in Washington State.

Okay, what is it that the Republicans like to say? Something about recounting over and over until you get a result you like, but at some point a winner has to be declared and the process just has to stop?

Well, if the current totals in the Washington State Governor’s race continue their trend, the Dems can start chanting, you can challenge the results in court over and over until you get a result you like, but at some point a winner has to be declared and the process just has to stop.

Time for a big quote from The Seattle Times:

The Supreme Court yesterday unanimously ruled that during a recount, counties have the power to reconsider previously rejected ballots.

The ruling allows King County today to count some, if not most, of the 735 ballots that election workers improperly rejected because they failed to find matching signatures in county files. The county expects to finish counting and report its final returns this afternoon.

What happens after that is not clear. At yesterday's court hearing, justices and lawyers made reference to the state law that allows elections to be contested in a court trial where evidence of fraud or legal error can be heard. The law allows election results to be set aside, and new elections ordered, under certain circumstances.

"Someone will decide to contest it," the Republican Party's attorney, Harry Korrell, told the Supreme Court yesterday. "I think that is almost unavoidable regardless of what this court does."

He said a contest would allow for an adversarial process where evidence would be presented and witnesses cross-examined.

Are the Republican’s already planning their challenge or are they taking the high road they preached in Florida in 2000 and letting the process roll to its conclusion?

The Times quotes the State Republican Chair Chris Vance as saying, "This is the election without end, this is the election without rules."

Ambiguous, sure, but I am guessing, after all the Republican hand wringing in Ohio this year and Florida four years ago, they are going to start the healing in Washington and concede, right?


Please feel free to mentally insert your favorite Republican spin doctor’s “Democrats are sore loooooosers” quote here and then chuckle over the blatant hypocrisy.

So, really…

Let’s parse this out a bit… Now, over those 735 ballots in King County, the issues here are the same as those in Ohio and those in Florida in 2000, every vote must be counted.

King County Executive Ron Sims, a Democrat, said the ruling reinforced the state's process for running elections and correcting mistakes.

"For us, this hand recount hasn't been about partisan politics; this has been about having a process that assures every eligible vote is counted," Sims said in a statement.

Now the Republicans are running with this ball, saying that the courts ruling should allow every county in Washington to review their ballots.

Of course, this sudden Republican concern over counting every vote is because, as of today, the Democrats are ahead and Rossi has lost. Even without the 735 ballots in King County.

Vance said the Republicans have a list of 500 people statewide, including about 260 who have signed affidavits, who voted for Rossi but contend their ballots were wrongly rejected due to signature problems.

In light of yesterday's court ruling, he said the party will press county auditors across the state to reconsider those ballots.

"Now, we're with the Democrats," said Vance. "Let's count every vote -- everywhere, not just in King County."

Ah, man… Uh, oh.

[Rossi spokeswoman Mary] Lane and ... Vance said the party planned to go all over the state asking canvassing boards to take another look at ballots the party believes were erroneously rejected.

"If the rules are going to be changed for a select group in King County, it only seems logical that the rules are changed for everyone, including military voters overseas," Lane said.

Secretary of State Sam Reed, a Republican who backed the Democrats' bid to add any valid disputed ballots to King County's recount, said it's too late for counties that have already certified results to recanvass their returns.

"He's wrong," Vance said, noting that Thurston County certified its results last week, then changed them to add one Gregoire vote. "This battle is not over. This election is not over."

Trovah Hutchins, Reed's spokeswoman, said the secretary of state's office advised Thurston County against changing its certified results. "Our reading of the law is that it's very clear, and that you cannot go back after a county has certified and begin adding votes back into the process."

I would guess that one way this issue could be resolved would be for King County to go ahead and certify their results without adding in the additional ballots. Then the other counties would have little room for complaint, since the same process was followed in all of the counties. However, this would mean that valid ballots were not counted and that voters were disenfranchised.

This is one of those principal defining moments. What is more important, a Democrat winning or defending the principals of our system and counting every valid ballot?

They’ve got to count those ballots. Even if it puts Rossi into the job.

I said it.

But it would still be nice to see the Righties live by the principals they whine about in the recent Presidential races and to just concede.

And flying monkeys just shot out of my ass.

Finally, the money...

If Gregoire's lead holds, Democrats will get back the $730,000 they posted to cover the cost of the manual recount, and the state will have to pick up the bill.

Gregoire leads by 10

Both parties respond to the latest chapter in recount saga

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