Recount! Gregoire's big King County boost

By John Dunagan of Keizer, Oregon. John describes himself as an "active Democrat and a former (and possibly future) precinct committeeperson."

As the Washington recount totals inch ever forward in favor of Republican candidate Dino Rossi (who as of last night, according to KOIN, was +70 in his race against Democratic former AG Christine Gregoire), a major development may swing the gubernatorial race back in favor of Gregoire:

Seattle P-I: King County Democrats just found 561 wrongly-rejected absentee ballots. Among them was the absentee ballot of King County Council Chair Larry Phillips, a Democrat.

King County went heavily for Gregoire in November, and is 2-1 in favor of Democrats on the county's Canvass Board.

Without rehashing the P-I, Phillips himself found the mistake in going over a list of the rejects. He normally votes in person, but was in Ohio this November working for John Kerry. Thus, the absentee. Needless to say, he was shocked to see his own name there, and discovered the mistake at that time.

Elections officials had originally rejected the ballots because the signatures did not match the ones on their registration records. However, the signatures simply were not on file in the county's voter registration system, according to Dean Logan (Director, King Co. Elections).

It goes to the WA Supremes this PM (Monday), with Democrats seeking to include the erroneous rejects in the recount, and Republicans opposing (claiming it'll delay the recount past the New Year).

If she gets them included, the WA Democrats should be pulling up every county in the state for the same error. 561 votes in King County could decide this race for Gregoire, anyway.

  • allehseya (unverified)

    Kind of makes you wonder what would've happened if others held out for the full count.

    If this has inspired anyones appetite for some darker Orwellian 'what if' scenarios -- check out this blog (don't forget to bring your popcorn):

  • Doug Bridges (unverified)

    I just wish the Rossi people would stop whinning. Let the votes, all the votes be counted! The Gregoire gang are not asking for bogus results, just to let each vote count!! This is the closest race for a state govenor in U.S. history. We can wait for the true results. Thank you

  • Aaron (unverified)

    However, the signatures simply were not on file in the county's voter registration system, according to Dean Logan.
    I think that someone needs too lose thier head over this. If this did not occur with the missing signatures--Rossi would have lost big time. We, the voters, scream about accountability--this is a major oversight; we are tired of excuses. I think the Sec of State's office should fine the hell out the these counties that failed the voters.

  • (Show?)

    I should add, courtesy of MyDD, that 19 of 39 counties have reported so far in the Washington recount; however, King County is not one of them.

    Of course, this means that Gregoire could get even more votes out of her best stronghold.

  • Mac Diva (unverified)

    I believe two separate matters have beem mixed together here. The list of rejected but eligible ballots found in King County is pretty clear cut. Those ballots should be counted because it was clearly system error and the voters, unless the signatures on their cards are unclear, qualified. The other issue is much less compelling. It requires actively seeking ballots that were not counted before. My guess is that the Court will rule against the Democrats. If the found ballots don't take Gregoire to a lead, she will likely lose.

    Oh, to be a bit more clear. Equal protection does not have to be perfect. The judges may believe the procedural protections in place for the election are adequate. That would lead them to reject judidical intervention in the political process.

    Aaron's bloviating notwithstanding, the mistake that resulted in the found ballots was a simple one. Someone looked for records on a computer (where most probably are) instead of in a file of written cards. A mistake, but not gross negligence.

  • Aaron (unverified)


    The Wa. S.C. ruled against us

    The lawsuit sought to force county officials to reconsider ballots that had been rejected — most notably in King County. Some weren't counted, for example, because the voter's signature on a mail-in ballot did not match the signature on file and the voter didn't correct the record by the deadline.

    "We are mindful that King County rejected a higher percentage of signatures than did other counties," justices wrote, but noted that it was not clear why that was the case.

    I think that the key point--the county and state parties are slightly to blame for overlooking this issue. Over time, people handwriting does change--so as a voter it is our responsible to check in to the county elections office to see how old our signature is on file. Furthermore, fix it on the spot if there is any question or potential issue that could arise from this issue.

    For finding ballots after having the result of the election certified, the county clerks should be fined for failure of doing their jobs properly. Accountability and responsibility are major message points for the Democratic Party as a whole. We were trying to convey that the other side is not accepting as these ideologies as obligations to the voters during the election cycle.

    So who is the Election Commissioner for King County? Is he or she a Democrat? Did he or she do a through final sweep of the King County Election Building for missing placed ballots? Where were these new ballots located at after the fact of having the election certified?

    If I were a resident of King County, I would be happy if the county election office was fined for having certified their results a couple of hours late and have found and counted these “missing ballots” than having the election won by this oversight.

  • (Show?)

    It's pretty incredible that with somewhere around 3,700,000 votes in Washington, you can correctly refer to 531 votes as a "big boost".

  • Rorovitz (unverified)

    I read an article earlier today that had Rossi up by 42 votes at the end of the second recount and that thus far in this third recount Rossi had picked up an additional 46 votes for a total lead of 88 votes.

    For those 561 votes, if they stay at the 58% margin of victory that Gregoire had in King County (not 2:1 as implied above) then Gregoire picks up a net increse of 88 votes over Rossi. When we put the 88 vote lead for Rossi minus the estimate of 88 votes for Gregoire in King County that gives us an even tie.

    Of course there are a few other variables to figure in, but we could very well end up with a margin lower than 42 votes. Wow.

  • Bob R. (unverified)

    The "2:1" mentioned above was not the ratio of votes for a candidate, but the number of democrats vs. number of republicans on the county canvassing board.

  • (Show?)

    Interesting to me how this compares to Florida in 2000, with King County playing the role of Palm Beach County.

    Disappointing that the Supremes shot it down.

    To answer a previous question, Dean Logan is King County Director of Elections (their 'Commissioner', if you will), and he's a Democrat, just like Theresa LePore was in Palm Beach County.

    I expect that the rejected voters (with County Chair Phillips leading the way) have a grievance with not having been notified that their signature was not on file in time to correct it by November 2nd.

  • (Show?)

    Hey John, welcome to the posting side of Blue Oregon. Good to hear your thoughts--

  • (Show?)

    Thanks, Jeff.

    I worry about Washington with Dino Rossi as Governor. I hope I'm wrong, but I won't be surprised to hear:

    • about Washington moving to Diebold (or some other corrupt, Republican-run company's) electronic machines for elections;

    • a state budget gutted with tax breaks for corporations that don't need them, paybacks for land-use rulings, and drastic cuts in schools and social services;

    • discrimination against America's newest n****rs, the gays, enshrined in the Washington State Constitution;

    • the Seattle Metro Area even more sprawled and choked with traffic than it already is.

    But hey, at least U-Doob will win a few more football games with Willingham at the helm.

  • (Show?)

    I'm actually a fan of divided government--often it gives you the juice to come up with creative solutions. At least, that's how it's worked on the West Coast from time to time. But I was alarmed to hear Rossi's crowd decrying Gregoire's effort to "steal the election."

    Right. It's .000001% of the electorate (or whatever), and she's trying to "steal" it. More accurately, I was confronted with the specter--yet AGAIN--of another Republican trying to stifle the democratic process. I say stick it to him Christine; this guy doesn't deserve the office.

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    The point is that someone hid the "lost" ballots to keep them from being counted. Who is that person? Start the police investigation. The finality of prison for such treason might get the small-time lackeys to start rolling over and incriminating the higher-ups, and then they are going to prison. As the lackeys recognize that their higher ups fear any true testimony which can put bigwigs in prison, too, the lackeys should also realize that the time when they may be in dark danger is the keeping-silent time before they confess -- in case some mucky-muck names they have try to make the silence permanent. Not testifying is when they are in danger. Telling the truth is protection. Thinking about telling the truth is danger.

  • (Show?)


    Apparently, the WA Supremes only struck down what I had suggested, that this error should be checked in every county in Washington.

    The P-I article I linked above suggests that King County may allow the 561 erroneously-rejected ballots on its own - it's just that no other county is expected to follow suit.

    So it's up to the King County Elections Board to allow or not allow the 561 ballots where it can be proven that the county had a valid signature on file. That board skews 2-1 Democrats, with Logan (D) in charge.

    Lessee if he does the right thing...

  • Mac Diva (unverified)

    Told you so! (See my comment in the thread above.) It came down to comity among branches of government. The Court was not going to risk appearing to overly intrude in the political process.

  • (Show?)

    561 "found votes" is now 573 (would be 595 but the 22 ballots that were hiding behind machines likely won't be counted).

    The AP has a quick explanation to reconcile the WA Supremes decision not to count ballots that haven't already been counted with King County's decision to count ballots that haven't already been counted.

    People smarter than I am are betting on a Gregoire win by 20 votes. Here's the latest tally.

    Anyone else care to make a final outcome guess?

  • Aaron (unverified)


    Rossi by 61.

    Rossi's strong counties that have been counted have given Rossi a growing edge: Yakima +15 for Rossi Walla Walla + 9 for Rossi Grant + 9 for Rossi

    As well the one county that went for Gregoirethat have several thousands ballots counted is: Whatcom, and it gave Rossi 6 more votes.

    Thurston and King counties are the only hope for Gregoire to surpass Rossi's 112 vote lead at this time--if and only if those counties that are Rossi country: Spokane, Snohomish, Skagit, and Pierce; are a push.

  • Mac Diva (unverified)

    Anne, I will not try to guess. Even if Gregoire carries King County with the usual 70/30 ratio, we have to consider that Rossi is coming out ahead in most other counties. Slightly ahead. But, ahead. So, her total in the new 500+ ballots must exceed his overall gain. We'll see what happens.

    The distinction between the King County ballots and a recount of all uncounted ballots is easy to me. Those ballots were missed due to government error, then <u>accidentally</u> found. That is a long way from altering procedure to seek out ballots and determine the voters' intent.

  • (Show?)

    John, Your equating Dean Logan to Theresa LePore is about as fair as saying all the GOP election officials are just like Katherine Harris. It is utterly without foundation. First, Dean used to be the Washington State Elections Director under two Republican Secretaries of State. He took the King County job to rescue a seriously dysfunctional operation following a director removed following terrible mismanagement. I am sure the King County Elections operation is not perfect, but it has come a long way under Dean's leadership. No one who knows anything about Dean Logan has ever believed that he had partisan motivations.

  • (Show?)

    I appreciate the comment, Paddy, but I wasn't equating them in terms of motivation or mindset.

    I said, in not so many words, that they were both Democrats in charge of elections for predominantly Democratic counties that had problems conducting their elections. They had similar roles, Paddy, whether we like one of them better than the other, or not.

    The difference (and it's evident from the news articles I've linked to, even if not from my followup posts to this thread) is that Commissioner Logan did the right thing, and included the wrongly-rejected ballots in the recount; LePore did not (or could not, depending on what could be done under Florida law to correct an error in ballot design).

    I'm sorry if that touched a nerve, but these situations are similar, and the roles (Democratic election officials in charge of elections for the counties in question) are therefore similar.

    I did not, and will not attempt to cast aspersions on Commissioner Logan's motivation, as it's obvious from his conduct that he solved the problem.

  • (Show?)

    John, The other important distinction is that Theresa LePore is (or I guess was) a partisan elected official. Dean is a hired elections professional. I've known Dean for five years and as I noted earlier when I met him he was an elections professional working for a Republican Secretary of State, Ralph Munro. I don't know Dean's party affiliation (and since there is no party registration in Washington) I suspect you are speculating about it based upon who he works for.

    I realize that in the environment post-Florida 2000, taking pot-shots (and ascribing partisan motivations to every act) at folks in the elections business is fair game. I've had the pleasure to get to know a lot of these folks since I've gone to work in the Secretary of State's office and with a few notable exceptions have found the vast, vast majority to go to great lengths to be even handed and fair.

  • (Show?)

    The P-I articles referred to Commissioner Logan multiple times as a Democrat. That's the only basis upon which I identified him as such.

    Same with LePore (Miami Herald, St. Petersburg Times, multiple other sources), for that matter.

    Furthermore, this was never a pot shot, nor did I ever ascribe partisan motivations to Commissioner Logan in this instance.

    I stand by everything I've written in this thread, including the compare/contrast with LePore, and will repeat that I've never had, nor do have, a problem with the conduct, professional or otherwise, of Commissioner Dean Logan of King County, Washington. In fact, I admire his willingness to do the right thing and work for the greater good.

  • LT (unverified)

    If you really want to read about the recount from hell, I would suggest the late great Steve Neal's biography of Charles McNary. Communications and procedures were much different almost 100 years ago. McNary was appointed to a newly created position (judgeship, I think ) in maybe 1917 or something like that on condition he run for election the next year. It was a hotly contested election undecided on election night. McNary wisely took his family on vacation out of state when it became clear there would be a recount. Something like a month into the recount, someone opened a closet in a rural county (Wasco, Sherman or one like those as I recall) and found a box of ballots. Imagine that happening today. Or is that like what happened in King County? Does human error have a party or do all have that potential?

    I happen to believe most elections officials who are not elected officials (and some who are elected) are professionals first, at least in the NW. Blackwell of Ohio and the whole Florida scene are something else again, but do any of us really understand how those people were selected?

    One time years ago here in Marion County there was no one running in the Democratic primary for county clerk so some of us wrote in the name of the excellent director of elections. She found it amusing since she lived in Polk County and never desired to run for office. We told her we meant it as a compliment.

    Although I have voted for more Democrats than Republicans or Independents, our recently retired County Clerk was a Republican. But most of us would trust Al Davidson above any elections official anyone could name. He did excellent work (I was once a recount observer when he was in charge). In a state where so many (over 20% I think) don't register to a party, it is unwise to assume that because someone is listed in a newspaper as being registered with the --- party that means they can be generalized in with all other members of that party.

    I don't speculate on things I haven't seen myself--too often such speculation is based on minimal facts and questionable accuracy.

  • (Show?)

    John, Not to beat a dead horse (though it may be too late for that disclaimer), but the only reference I saw in the P-I was a quote from the State Republican Chair: "Vance called the canvassing board vote "a party-line vote" since Pelz is a Democrat, Logan's boss, County Executive Ron Sims, is a Democrat, and Satterberg's boss, Maleng, is a Republican."

  • the prof (unverified)

    So now we're down to eight votes. I just hope Washington state can move forward, regardless of the victor. It will be hard feelings on one side or another, I fear.

  • (Show?)

    You're right, Prof, but I also think there were going to be hard feelings on either side, even if Rossi or Gregoire won the Governorship going away - that's the state of things nationally, not just in Washington.

  • (Show?)

    Gregoire's up, and the WA Supremes just ruled that all the King County ballots will count.

    I think we have a winner.

  • clackhiker (unverified)

    I think it's important to point out that the Washington Supreme Court ruling was unanamous. All justices concurred, count all the votes.

    Now with the shoe on the other foot we can watch the Republicans demanding elections offices to pull every filing cabinet away from the wall to look for "missing" ballots!

    Oh well, turnabout is fair play.

    Count each and every vote.

  • (Show?)

    King County manual recount results are up now here, with Gregoire gaining 47.

    Final certification tomorrow (Thursday).

  • Aaron (unverified)


    I hope you are wrong; but I know you are right about the Republicans are going to go back to court too demand to see if there is any "newly found" ballots in those counties that didn't say anything.

    So if the count stands. Gregorie wins by 10.

  • clackhiker (unverified)

    Aaron - I just remember the silly conservatives insisting that Gregoire should just concede and that by asking for the manual recount (which she is entitled to under Washington statute) she was some how hurting the State of Washington or the Office of Govenor.

    Now that the shoe is on the other foot, we blues need to support the principal for which we stand in all elecetions which is to count every single vote. I was very impressed by John Edwards during the early morning hours of November 3rd when he told the waiting crowd to insist that each and every vote be counted. I am sure that Christine Gregoire and the Democratic Party leadership in the State of Washington agree. Regardless of which candidate finally wins, the most important thing is that the vote be complete and correct.

    <h2>With each candidate recieving 1,373,000 votes and being with in 10 votes of each other means that there is no real winner or loser here. However there will be no question of who the winner is because all possible votes will be counted. Unlike the crowning of King GWB by a 5 to 4 vote of the US Supreme Court this election, though close, will be believable</h2>
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