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December 28, 2004
Republicans Demand Voter Rolls In King County

Republicans in the state of Washington refuse to go gently into that good night for the moment, demanding to see the complete voter rolls for King County to determine if any fraud caused the shifting voting totals for Washington's biggest county and Christine Gregoire's margin of victory (hat tip: The Anchoress):

Washington Republicans, girding for a possible court challenge of Democrat Christine Gregoire's razor-thin victory for governor, on Monday demanded a list of the 900,000 who cast ballots in vote-rich, problem-plagued King County.

Democrats accused the Republicans of being on "a fishing expedition" and urged them to concede or face the public's wrath for dragging out an election already eight weeks old.

Republican state Chairman Chris Vance said his party and other backers of GOP candidate Dino Rossi have nagging questions about the vote count in the county that tipped the race to Gregoire by a scant 130 votes last week.

"We want to know who voted in the election, and it's hard to know where we go from here (with a possible court challenge) before we get some answers," Vance said in an interview.

"We're mostly posing questions. King County is where we saw the votes changing. King County is the one county that was allowed to take ballots that were declared dead in November and bring them back to life in December."

The GOP didn't yet commit itself to an election challenge, which would come after the certification expected on Thursday. The party is split on whether a full-blown election challenge would damage more than benefit them, even if it overturned the governor's race results. Right now, they want to gather as many of the facts together in a short period to make that decision.

I have tremendous sympathy for the Washington GOP and Dino Rossi's campaign. Rossi won the election on the first count and the first recount. In fact, one could argue that he's ahead on vote counts, 2-1. Gregoire didn't help with her inane comments that a 230+ margin was a "virtual tie" and a 42-vote margin amounted to an actual tie, nor did King County give voters any confidence in their credibility by continually "finding" lost ballots only during the recount.

However, the hand recount has a solid legal basis, and even without the additional ballots, Gregoire won by 10 votes -- not a tie, not even a virtual one, despite Gregoire's stupid assertions to the contrary. It also was inevitable given the paltry margin between the candidates in the first two counts. The GOP will not gain any credibility by pressing for yet another recount. What would be the point? Not only will recounts have less and less standing with Washingtonians, but it costs a lot of money to stage them -- money that could be put to other uses.

If Republicans want to challenge the results, the only basis on which to move forward will be election fraud, and that appears to be their strategy now. They've collected affadavits from 300 people who claim their votes weren't counted -- but that reminds people too strongly of the Florida debacle. How could they know their specific votes were not counted, unless they submitted their ballots in such a way that they saw them rejected? A better avenue is to gather the voter rolls and demand that King County reveal their policies on military ballots. Both should already be transparent to voters in Washington, and resistance by King County and the Democrats to release the information points to some issue they want to hide.

If they fail to find evidence of fraud (as opposed to marginal incompetence), then the GOP needs to drop the issue and prepare Rossi for a Thune-like run at Maria Cantwell's Senate seat. The governor's chair is already damaged goods for this term, and the GOP needs to avoid going the Al Gore route, especially given Gore's notable lack of success.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 28, 2004 5:37 AM

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