Thursday, December 23, 2004

A Possible Re-Do In Washington State?

The Democrat’s Christine Gregoire now leads by 10 votes. This lead might grow by several hundred once 500 or so more ballots in King County are counted.

According to The Seattle Times, this means, “statewide, the vote difference between Gregoire and [Republican Dino] Rossi is now 0.00036 percent.” 2.9 million votes were cast in the election.

According to a piece published Tuesday in USA Today:

The trouble with extremely close elections is that a candidate's victory margin can be smaller than the total vote's margin of error, regardless of voting technology. A lead of just a few votes could be the result of mistakes. That's why there are recounts. But recounts themselves, whether by machine or by hand, have error rates of 1% to 2%, says Phil Howard, a political communications professor at the University of Washington.

Looking at the vote totals for the three recounts, we see the problem illustrated more clearly…

From today’s Seattle Times article:

Rossi won the Nov. 2 election by 261 votes, which triggered an automatic statewide machine recount. After Rossi won that recount by just 42 votes, the state Democratic Party requested a third count -- this time by hand.

For the first week of the manual recount, Rossi gained votes in most of the state's smaller counties and at one point was ahead by more than 120 votes.

But Gregoire charged back late last week, picking up 43 votes on Rossi in Snohomish County and 31 in Pierce County.

She overtook Rossi yesterday when King County -- the last to complete the manual recount -- reported she had gained 47 votes, while Rossi had lost 12.

King County elections director Dean Logan said Gregoire may have benefited from ballots on which voters wrote her name as a write-in but failed to fill in any bubble, Logan said. Machines disqualified those ballots, but the manual count gave them to Gregoire.

Which gives Gregoire a ten vote lead.

Maybe the Republicans do have something of a point when they whine about recounting over and over until you get a result that you like.

This has triggered talk of re-doing the election.

The election to replace two-term Democrat Gary Locke has dragged on so long that calls for a new election are gaining traction.

Last week, a former secretary of State who oversaw elections for 20 years joined the chorus, warning that whoever emerges from the recount would have trouble governing.

There are some precedents for this in American politics.

In 1974, a two-vote margin in the New Hampshire U.S. Senate race led to a court battle so contentious that both candidates agreed to a new election. Democrat John Durkin won a rematch.

Now, this one article in a national publication is the only place I have actually seen the possibility of a re-do mentioned. I have done my extensive 37 seconds of searching on Google, I have glanced at the web sites for the two Seattle newspapers…

I doubt that this is really much of an issue outside of random, idle chatter. Or is it? I tried to find an article from Washington mentioning the idea of a re-do, but I was unable to locate one before I got distracted.

This probably will be settled by the courts in the end.

I just hope one of the canidates does not suddenly develop facial scaring.

Wash. election drama plays on

Unofficial manual recount results

Text of Supreme Court's decision

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