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December 14, 2004
Washington State Supreme Court Affirms Electoral Law

In a late decision today, the Washington state Supreme Court unanimously rejected a lawsuit from Democrats to review previously rejected ballots in the race for governor. The justices agreed that state law defines recount as only the retabulation of already-approved ballots and does not give any opportunity to review those rejected:

The state Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously rejected the Democratic Party's request that previously rejected absentee and provisional ballots be included in the hand recount of Washington state's contested governor's race. ...

In a brief written opinion, the high court said that under Washington law, "ballots are to be 'retabulated' only if they have been previously counted or tallied" excluding those that had been disqualified by canvassing boards.

Democrats had estimated in their lawsuit that an additional 3,000 ballots should be reconsidered during the recounts -- in other words, changing the rules for voting after the fact. The Supreme Court thankfully refused to sanction opening that can of worms; otherwise, Washington voters would have had front-row seats to another round of Guess That Voter Intent, where partisan poll workers stare at improperly-cast ballots and pretend to divine the desires of the persons casting them. Floridians and the rest of the nation had enough of that in 2000 to last a lifetime.

Unfortunately, that ruling may not apply to 561 ballots that Democrats claim were mistakenly rejected by election workers. These ballots came from the Democratic stronghold of King County, where Gregoire topped Rossi 60-40. If that same margin holds up in these new ballots, it would give Gregoire just enough votes to go ahead of Rossi on the recount. Those ballots have to be verified by a canvassing board tomorrow, at which point we should know whether they tip the election to the Democrat.

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers!

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 14, 2004 6:34 PM

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Tracked on December 14, 2004 9:41 PM

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