NYTimes.com Article: Margin Now Just 42 Votes in Washington State Race

From: Arthur Keller <arthur_at_kellers_dot_org>
Date: Thu Nov 25 2004 - 03:30:11 CST

Looks like Fred McLain got his wish.

Best regards,

The article below from NYTimes.com

Margin Now Just 42 Votes in Washington State Race

November 25, 2004

SEATTLE, Nov. 24 - The election was already achingly close,
but the recount in the race for governor of Washington
State was almost absurdly close, the results showed
Wednesday. Former State Senator Dino Rossi, the Republican
who was declared the winner last week by 261 votes, won the
recount by a mere 42, of almost three million cast.

And the bizarre contest is anything but settled. Democrats
said the vote - 48.8717 percent to 48.8702 percent, as
recounted by machine - was far too close for their
candidate, State Attorney General Christine Gregoire, to
concede. They said they would request a third count, this
one by hand, possibly featuring the inspection of, yes,

Ms. Gregoire said Wednesday evening that her party was
challenging specific results in several counties, but she
declined to say whether the recount, which the party is
guaranteed under state law, would be held in only some
counties or in all of the state's 39. The Democrats have a
week to decide.

"Well, the race continues," she said at a news conference
in Seattle. "It's a 42-vote difference. My friends, it is a
tied race. Some folks have suggested we ought to flip a
coin or stage a duel with Senator Rossi. My personal
preference is we ought to recount every single vote."

Mr. Rossi, a commercial real estate agent, was on vacation
but issued a statement saying, "This process has lasted a
lot longer than anyone thought it would, but I'm grateful
that the people of Washington have placed their trust in

The election has been by far the closest in the history of
this state, which has various types of voting systems,
including punch cards and optical scanners.

"I've been in the election business for 33 years, and I'm
astonished," Secretary of State Sam Reed, an elected
Republican, said Wednesday afternoon at a news conference
in Olympia, the state capital. "When they gave me these
results, I must admit I was stunned. We are talking about
such a small percentage of difference that it is almost

Bitter feuding between the two parties, which had already
sparred in court over the vote count here in heavily
Democratic King County, was renewed only seconds after the
final results of the five-day recount came in Wednesday
afternoon. Democrats maintained that the voting machines
were fallible. Republicans accused the Democrats of
plotting to cherry-pick, suggesting that they would seek a
hand recount only in Democratic-leaning counties.

"The most important thing is that people have confidence
that their governor was elected and was credibly elected,"
said Kirstin Brost, a Democratic spokeswoman. "People have
to have confidence in the process. If we were talking about
a difference of 5,000 votes it would be a very different
story, but we are talking about a difference that is less
than one one-hundredth of 1 percent."

Several members of Mr. Rossi's transition team held a news
conference outside his campaign headquarters in Bellevue,
east of Seattle.

"The votes have been counted twice," said one team member,
Kathy Lambert, a King County councilwoman. "We know very
clearly who won."

J. Vander Stoep, Mr. Rossi's transition chief of staff,
said, "A lot of lawyers are either buying plane tickets or
they are here already, on both sides."

"That's Christine Gregoire's choice," he added, "whether to
unleash that and turn this into Florida the Second, or
whether to say two counts is enough."

Mr. Rossi's 261-vote victory last week, coming two weeks
after Election Day and delayed by the counting of hundreds
of thousands of absentee ballots, automatically brought a
machine recount under Washington's election laws. Any
political party can then request a further count, by
machine or hand, but the party must shoulder the cost. That
cost would be some $700,000 if the Democrats demanded that
the new recount take place in all 39 counties.

If that recount, even if held in only one county, were to
change the outcome of the election, making Ms. Gregoire the
winner, then Secretary of State Reed would be required to
order another, final, statewide count, this one by hand
since that was what the Democrats demanded Wednesday for
the second recount. The cost of the final count would be
paid by the state, Mr. Reed said Wednesday.

The next count could last weeks, even though Mr. Reed said
he and the current governor, Gary Locke, a Democrat who
decided not to run again, would certify Mr. Rossi as the
governor-elect on Tuesday. The parties have until three
days after the certification to request a recount.

The results of both the initial count and the recount were
stunners, because Ms. Gregoire had been expected to win
easily. The state's voters here had not sent a Republican
to the governor's mansion since 1980.



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