Friday, February 11, 2005

Washington Gubernatorial Update

We are keeping our eyes on this case which has largely slipped out of the spotlight but is critical nonetheless.

In what should be considered a win for Dino Rossi and the Republicans, a judge in Chelan County is allowing the case to go forward. The judge has indicated that he has no authority to order a revote but can set aside the election.

WENATCHEE — The Republican court challenge to the election of Gov. Christine Gregoire will move toward trial after Judge John Bridges yesterday rejected Democratic motions to dismiss the case or move it to the Legislature or the state Supreme Court.
Bridges said in Chelan County Superior Court that allegations in the lawsuit filed by Republican candidate Dino Rossi and Republican voters, if proved at trial, would be sufficient to overturn the election. And he denied a Democratic motion to limit any challenge to issues of fraud and illegal votes, saying misconduct or neglect by election officials would also be sufficient grounds for setting aside the election.

A significant issue remains unresolved:

A major issue that appeared less than settled yesterday was whether Republicans would have to show that each illegal vote they find was cast for Gregoire and that they can find enough to erase her 129-vote victory margin.

Democrats argue that that's the standard set in law. Republicans have said they only need to show there were enough illegal votes to make the true results of the election unknown.

Bridges said that at least at this point in the case, it is "sufficient to state generally" that there are enough illegal votes to cast doubt on the true outcome of the election.

But the judge cited a 1912 state Supreme Court case often mentioned by Democrats. In that case, the court found that if it is unknown which candidate received an illegal vote, "it must be treated as a legitimate vote."

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