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Monday, February 14, 2005

Revote commentary in The Western Front

My apologies for letting posting get stagnant. I try to have time at least every other day to get some posting in. That hasn't been happening because my mind (among other things) has been abnormally pre-occupied lately.

On to the update...

Being a staff writer on The Western Front means being unbiased--except when I volunteer to write an opinion. This I did and I was pretty happy with the outcome...well, the original outcome that is... So far, the only thing that has been printed is a chopped version (because of space restrictions) and nothing has shown up online--this is odd because my rival counterpart has her piece up... Someone is going to hear about this soon, if not tonight.

Anyway, just for the record, I want to present you with the full piece, before space restrictions took their toll.

Citizens of this state are under the specter of a tarnished gubernatorial election. A revote is the only way to undo the damage inflicted on the election process’s credibility.

Throughout the mayhem, Washingtonians had their intelligence insulted as King County officials made a mess of the election process. The Democrats have followed this up by making contradictory arguments in their attempts to stop a revote.

For example, last month, Democratic attorneys requested the Chelan County Superior Court dismiss the Republican suit to have the election debacle nullified. Democratic attorney Jenny Durkan argued that courts have no jurisdiction to hear a gubernatorial election contest, according to a Jan. 24 Seattle Times article.

While Judge John Bridges rejected her argument, the real irony in her attempt is that it puts the Democrats in an inconsistent position. According to the same article, when Republican legislators tried to delay the inauguration, Democratic legislators said the state legislature was not the proper venue but instead the courts were.

Rep. Kelli Linville, D-western Whatcom County, echoed that view in a Jan. 13 e-mail, in which she said the courts must determine whether a new election is required.

Sensible people, meanwhile, may feel like their heads will twist off while trying to follow these circular arguments.

The problems with the election are far too numerous to tally exhaustively in this little column, so a few examples will have to suffice.

Washington will remember the drama of the recounts for a long time to come. It seemed every day new reports of inexplicable mystery ballots appeared. The predictability of each “discovery” grew to be surreal in the extreme.

The Seattle Times reflected this in a Dec. 17 article describing King County election workers opening a locked cage in a warehouse and pulling out a cart containing trays of rejected absentee ballots in full view of observers and a mass of television cameras. They found 150 mystery ballots in sealed envelopes in a tray with other rejected ballots.

Republican concerns about the security of those “locked cages” are now being brought to bear in the Chelan County case through the signed affidavit of King County election observer Timothy Borders.

Borders expressed concern to King County Elections Superintendent Bill Huennekens during the election process that the cages were too easy to break into, according to a Feb. 4 Seattle Times article.

In response, Huennekens casually said, “If it happens, we’ll know it was you.”

After pseudo-Governor Gregoire claimed victory, Seattle resident and computer software consultant Stefan Sharkansky blew the whistle on the King County’s huge discrepancy between the ballots counted and the voters who voted. The county never did offer an explanation, and instead tried to say the discrepancy is normal. Unfortunately, as Sharkansky pointed out on his Weblog, Sound Politics, the numbers did not match previous discrepancies recorded from past elections.

As the evidence continues to pile up, Washingtonians can only wonder why Christine Gregoire called this election system a model to the rest of the nation and to the world at large, in a Dec. 25 Seattle Post-Intelligencer article.

Many people have argued that Washington couldn’t patiently stand another election. But in reality, nothing could be farther from the truth.

In fact Democratic leaders in Washington have reason to be uneasy despite this state’s blue leanings. According to an independent Jan. 26 survey by Strategic Vision, a nationwide public relations firm, 53 percent of Washingtonians support a revote between Ms. Gregoire and Mr. Rossi.

It’s time to start over. A new election will give Washingtonians a chance to speak in language they can understand. More than that, someone needs to make sure ballots aren’t treated like playing cards to be shuffled and bottom dealt until the hand unfairly suits any candidate.

Be sure to read my opponent's piece. She did a pretty good job but I'll think she could have gotten some of her facts straight--after all, Rossi is not digging "bitterly through garbage cans to find votes that may not have been counted." That was the Dem’s method of winning. Instead, team Rossi would rather prove team Gregoire dug through "garbage cans" to get the votes they got. I fail to see how Ms. Harshman could think Rossi is looking for new "uncounted ballots."

I know, it's not my place to understand such thinking.