Washington Libertarian Review

Political commentary from the State of Washington with a libertarian perspective.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Bennett to appear at Republican news conference to discuss her observations in the King County Elections Department

Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Ruth Bennett has been asked by the Republican Party to appear at their press conference today to discuss problems she encountered while observing tabulation and canvassing in King County. She has said that security at the facility was marginal at best, and that there were no written standards, until she asked for them, for determining the validity of a particular ballot (i.e., was it properly signed and filled out, etc.).

The saga grows more interesting.

The Seattle Times has uncovered security flaws in connection with so-called provisional votes. The Times reports, "An unknown number of provisional voters, some of whom may not even have been registered to vote, improperly put their ballots directly into vote-counting machines at polling places, King County's elections superintendent said yesterday. Once those ballots went into the machines, there was no way to separate them from legitimate ballots."

In recent legislation Congress has required states to allow voters who show up in the wrong precinct to vote anyway on a "provisional ballot" which is to be held separately and reconciled later with voter registration lists. Officials may never know exactly how many provisional ballots were improperly fed into voting machines, but a current review of polling-place records may give some indication of how widespread the problem was.

The Republicans claim there could be as many as 8,500 improperly cast votes. County officials deny the number is that high, but admit there is a significant discrepancy. Obviously, if the number exceeds 129, there is a serious question of the legitimacy of Gregoire's victory.

These "mystery voters" have given fresh hope to Rossi supporters. The Seattle PI reports Republican Chairman Chris Vance saying: "You simply can't have more votes counted than you have voters. The counties have to come up with a plausible explanation for this and if they don't this election is invalid on its face."

Citing these and other election related problems on a website advocating for a revote, former Governor Dan Evans said: "These and the perception of other problems have created a real crisis of confidence about this election."

Meanwhile, a crowd of protesters near Fort Lewis called for a revote to protect troops’ rights.

Even Secretary of State Reed admits the issue is significant. Speaking of the provisional ballot problem, he told the PI, "This is an issue that could potentially be used to contest the election. You'd have to make the point to the judge that it actually made a difference."

Christine Gregoire, who is no longer crowing that Washington has an election system ... with the highest of quality is planning on moving into the Governor's Mansion next Wednesday.


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