Features

264-vote nightmare

Elections

Issue: "Year in Review 2004," Jan. 1, 2005

Recounts. Court battles. Once again, an election has Washington tied in knots-only this time it's not the nation's capital. Long after voters decided the future of the White House and Congress, the gubernatorial election in Washington state remained very much in doubt.

After the first round of counting, Republican Dino Rossi appeared to end the Democrats' long stranglehold on the state's top office, edging Attorney Gen. Christine Gregoire by 264 votes out of 2.9 million. That triggered an automatic machine recount, and again Mr. Rossi won-this time by just 42 votes.

But state Democrats demanded-and paid for-a painstaking hand count that could leave the outcome in doubt until the New Year. And, in a move reminiscent of Florida 2000, they asked the courts to order the reexamination of thousands of ballots previously rejected over various irregularities, including signatures that didn't match the name on voter registration cards.

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"Christine Gregoire isn't interested in a fair recount," complained Rossi spokesperson Mary Lane. "She wants this to be as inaccurate and as corruptible as possible. She didn't get the results she wanted, so now she wants to change the rules. Anyone who is concerned about the integrity of our election system should be very worried."

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