Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Summary of Decision in Washington Governor's Election Contest

In last fall's election for governor of Washington, the Democratic candidate, Christine Gregoire, was certified as the winner over the Republican candidate, Dino Rossi, by 129 votes. Rossi had led the initial count and the first recount, but Gregoire won the second recount. Because of the close result and many problems in counting the votes, especially in King County, where Seattle is located and Democrats are in control, Rossi contested the election in court and asked for a new vote.

The judge issued his decision yesterday. The judge found 1,678 illegal votes were cast, including 754 felons proved by Republicans, 647 felons proved by Democrats, 96 provisional votes in King County, 79 provisional votes in Pierce County, 77 votes in Pierce County without a credited registered voter, 19 deceased voters, and 6 double voters.

The judge determined that only 5 of the illegal votes could be assigned to a candidate, including 4 cast for Rossi and one cast for an independent. That left 1,673 illegal votes that could not be assigned to one candidate.

In the key holding of the case, the judge ruled that the Republicans' "proffered expert testimony on proportional deduction in the context of this election contest case does not involve either an accepted theory or a valid technique to implement that theory". Translation: the expert's theory of how the illegal votes were cast was not evidence of how the votes were in fact cast. In other words, the Republicans had no evidence on this essential point unless they could show how the illegal votes were actually cast. That is impossible in the case of deceased voters and votes in excess of the number of credited voters. For other voters, the cost would be prohibitively high to determine how each of the illegal voters voted.

Without credible evidence of how 1,673 illegal votes were cast, the Republicans were not able to overcome the 129 vote deficit. Consequently, the judge upheld, in effect, the election result.

For more information, including a lot of background, go to Sound Politics, especially this post on the judge's "no evidence" holding.

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