Friday, February 4, 2005

Bad news in Washington State

Sound Politics: What really happened in Wenatchee?

The judge overseeing the Republican Party's contest of the clearly indecipherable Washington State gubernatorial election has made a ruling that appears to set an impossibly high evidentiary standard. At a first reading, it seems to insist that the election can be ruled invalid only if it can be proven that there were enough illegal votes cast for Christine Gregoire (the Democrat who lost both the initial election count and a machine recount, but who then in a hand recount ended up being credited with 129 more votes than Republican Dino Rossi, out of over 2.9 million votes cast/counted) to have made up that 129 vote final margin. But since voting is confidential--there is to be no way of determining after the fact how any individual voted--how is it going to be possible to prove, for instance, how the dozens of known felons who voted illegally cast their ballots?

Stunningly bad news. Worse, the judge indicated he would not order a new election, even if it is proven Gregoire won due to illegal votes. It is left open what rememdy, if any, would be imposed in such a case.

Keep your fingers crossed. Maybe the judge just had a hangover today.

UPDATE: from Tim Goddard, more info on the judge's ruling.

The judge "said, essentially, if the Republicans can prove their allegations as they have stated them, then their election contest will prevail. This is, obviously, quite good news."

"Second, the he ruled that he won’t be ordering a special election because he doesn’t have the authority. Some people have said this means “no revote,” which would be pretty deadly, but that’s not exactly true. Before Bridges even made his ruling, the Republican counsel said that the question before the court at that point was not “whether” to have a revote, but “when.” That is to say, would the court be able to order an election immediately, or wait until the next general election in November? The court has essentially said that the soonest there could be another Rossi-Gregoire showdown is in November, because the court’s power doesn’t extend far enough to order a new one immediately. The likely outcome of a successful contest now would be for the election to be nullified, Gregoire booted from office, leaving it vacant, meaning that the Lt. Governor Brad Owen would take over until November. While Republicans are dissappointed with this ruling, it’s hard to be too bummed about a judge admitting that his powers aren’t infinite."

OK, that's somewhat clearer, and slightly more palatable.