Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Counting the Count

I’ve been quiet about the gubernatorial recount because, like the rest of the state, I’m waiting for the outcome. And by commenting on it, I might be jinxing a process that has so far been (relatively) free of bone-headedness.

Story so far: In the election for governor, Republican Dino Rossi beat Christine Gregoire by an initial count of 260-some votes. With a mandated recount, that lead shrunk to 42 votes. The Dems ponied up the cash for a statewide recount, which is underway. So far, the recount has doubled Rossi’s margin, but the big dog county, King, has yet to report in.

Now for the curves – the Dems went to court to admit previously disallowed and therefore uncounted votes, and were turned down (good for the Dems to try, good for the court to say no). At the same time, about 500 votes turned up that were improperly disallowed and have been readmitted to the process – in a typically Washington State twist, one of the votes belongs to a Seattle City Councilman. Now this “new” 500 is exactly what the recount is about – making sure all the votes that are supposed to be counted are counted. The GOP actually used it in their argument before the court as a basis for why the court should not muck with the processs – “See? The system works.” Of course, after the ruling, they are whining about these recovered votes (which, being in King County, should break strongly but not overwhelmingly for the Dems). I’m waiting for the voting box to be recovered in the Yakima valley with more Rossi votes, but as I’ve said, the grown-ups seem to be running things.

Through this process, though, my opinion of Gregoire has notched upwards. She had kept her powder dry, and gone to lengths to argue with her own party about the right thing to do. She fought for a statewide count when the State Dems wanted to cherry-pick, and distanced herself from the court case. Rossi has come back from vacation to simultaneously support the process and cast aspersions on it.

Even the protesters (yes, we have them), have been pretty cool, though the heavy winter rains of the past week may have kept them at bay. They are out with their signs (Dems: "Count Every Vote!" GOP: "Don’t Change the Rules!" Libertarian: “Give Me a Cookie!”). The local media has been following the story without obsessing on it. And the national media is suffering from election fatigue, and is trying desperately avoif poking too hard at the process, lest they be called upon to look at other electoral weirdness. And the national media has also had juicier stories closer to home. (So let’s see if I got this right – We wanted to nominate this guy for Homeland Security who not only has mob ties, and was cheating on his wife with a NY publisher (among others), but he was using as a trysting ground an apartment originally donated to help 9/11 first responders with a view of the blast area? Let me join the rest of the country by saying “ Ewwwww!”).

More later, about the election, not the nomination weirdness.