washingtonpost.com  > Politics > Elections > 2004 Election

Wash. Governor's Race Tightens

Mostly Democratic King County Finds 561 Uncounted Votes

By Blaine Harden
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 15, 2004; Page A09

SEATTLE, Dec. 14 -- It seems implausible, but the implausibly tight Washington state governor's race is getting tighter.

At the beginning of the third count, this one by hand of nearly 3 million votes, Republican Dino Rossi, a self-made businessman, led Democrat Christine Gregoire, the state attorney general, by 42 votes. That margin, 0.0015 percent, makes the governor's contest one of the closest statewide races in U.S. history.


Washington state GOP gubernatorial hopeful Dino Rossi. (File Photo)


Friday's Question:
It was not until the early 20th century that the Senate enacted rules allowing members to end filibusters and unlimited debate. How many votes were required to invoke cloture when the Senate first adopted the rule in 1917?
51
60
64
67


spacer
2004 Campaign

President Bush Photos: Bush Wins
President Bush claims victory after John F. Kerry concedes the 2004 presidential election.
Bush's Speech: Video | Transcript
Kerry's Speech: Video | Transcript
Video: 2004 Election Rewind

___ Election Results ___

Exit Polls by State:

 

Results by Zip Code:
 

Results by State:

 


50 State Election Roundup
Comparison of 2004 and 2000
Amendments Defining Marriage


___ Electee Profiles ___

The New House
Freshman Senators
New Governors


 U.S. President
Updated 2:09 AM ET Precincts:0%
 CandidateVotes % 
  Bush * (R)  60,693,28151% 
  Kerry (D)  57,355,97848% 
  Other  1,107,3931% 
Full ResultsSourceAP

The hand count, which has been going on for a week, had slightly widened Rossi's lead until Monday, when the elections director in King County, which includes Seattle and is the state's largest county, discovered a potentially election-swinging foul-up.

Because of a data entry error, the official said, 561 absentee ballots had not been counted. If those votes swing for Gregoire at the same 58-40 rate as the rest of the votes in the strongly Democratic county did, Monday's find could give her as many as 101 new votes -- a relative landslide, given the closeness of the race.

As word of the find spread Monday, Democrats rejoiced while Republicans called their lawyers.

"Dino was gaining in the hand count; maybe that is why King County found so many votes," grumbled Chris Vance, chairman of the state Republican Party.

On Tuesday, though, momentum shifted again. In a unanimous decision, the Washington State Supreme Court turned down a Democratic Party demand that ballots tossed out by county officials before the first two counts should be included in the third hand count.

Democrats had argued that county election officials had not used uniform standards in deciding which absentee and provisional ballots should be disqualified. The court, however, said that it did not have the authority -- in the midst of a recount -- to order the state "to establish standards for the recanvassing of ballots previously rejected in this election."

It agreed that in King County -- Gregoire's base -- county officials had rejected a higher percentage of ballots than did other countries. But the court added, "The record before us does not establish the reason for this disparity."

The court's ruling, however, probably will not affect the 561 uncounted ballots. Those votes will be presented for verification Wednesday to the King County canvassing board, which is likely to rule them valid.

Republicans, though, may then challenge their validity in court, said Vance, the state party chairman.

"Our lawyers are looking into it, in light of the court decision today, and we are discussing our options," Vance said.

The hand count is expected to end next week, when King County reports its final numbers, which are widely expected to turn up at least a few more new votes for Gregoire.

As of Monday, Rossi's lead in the hand count had grown to 88 votes -- a margin that may well disappear, if the new King County votes are counted.


© 2004 The Washington Post Company