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New Recount Underway in Wash. State

Associated Press
Thursday, December 9, 2004; Page A02

SHELTON, Wash., Dec. 8 -- A recount by hand of 2.9 million votes began Wednesday to determine the winner of the closest gubernatorial race in state history.

A machine recount found Republican Dino Rossi to be the winner by 42 votes over Democrat Christine Gregoire. The hand recount is the final tally allowed by state law.

Six of the state's 39 counties started the recount Wednesday, with the rest to begin Thursday.

The first county to report results showed no change from the earlier machine recount. Garfield County, in eastern Washington, reported results in the early afternoon after hand-counting 1,293 votes: 65 percent for Rossi, 33 percent for Gregoire and 2 percent for Libertarian Ruth Bennett.

Meanwhile, the state Supreme Court scheduled a hearing Monday on the state Democratic Party's motion to reconsider ballots that were previously invalidated.

Whether Washington will have a governor by the scheduled Jan. 12 inauguration is anyone's guess. Rossi, 45, a commercial real estate agent, won the first count by 261 votes against Gregoire, a three-term attorney general who was initially favored to win.

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