[NWPT43] Once again the early headlines coming out of the Chelan County Courthouse buoyed the spirits of Rossi supporters, and once again the details of Judge Bridge’s actual rulings have deflated the more realistic among them. Four of the five motions didn’t go the Republicans’ way at all. And the fifth… well… not so much either.
While we’ll have to wait for release of the transcript to parse the full meaning from todays rulings, I wasn’t about to simply rely on the MSM for immediate analysis. I had my own fly on the wall, who shared with me a few of the more interesting details that have yet to be reported in the press.
First let me make absolutely clear that despite the initial headlines (and Rossi spokeswoman Mary Lane’s perfunctory exclamation of victory,) Judge Bridges did not rule that he would accept the GOP’s proposed “proportional deduction” methodology to divvy up the illegal votes based on statistical patterns. He simply did not reject statistical evidence per se. In effect, on what Lane triumphantly called “the big issue of the day,” we are simply left with the status quo.
The Judge decided that he would hold what is called a “Frye Hearing,” a hearing at which he will consider the admissibility of expert scientific testimony… specifically, the application of various proposed methods of statistical analysis. But Judge Bridges was unequivocal in stating that his decision “should not be interpreted as a pretrial ruling adopting the statistical analysis methodology.” Indeed, my insider tells me that at the pre-trial conference in the afternoon, one of the first things the Judge did was set the date of the Frye Hearing. (He had wanted to do it on May 17, but for scheduling purposes it will occur during the trial week.) And the fly reports that there was nothing in Judge Bridges statements that indicated he favored such an analysis.
Thus one can view this as a Republican victory, only in the sense that it didn’t immediately pull the plug on their case entirely. Indeed…
Mark Braden, the high-powered Republican lawyer brought in from Washington, D.C., to help Rossi’s cause, said after the hearing that if Bridges had blocked the proportional analysis strategy, the GOP case would have been lost.
As it is, Braden said, “We’re not out of the woods until the Supreme Court of this state says: ‘New election!’ “
Yeah… sure Mark. Whatever.
If only the rest of the day’s rulings had been so ambiguous, Braden’s enthusiasm would not have come across as so forced. But the remainder of the day went almost entirely the Democrats’ way, not the least of which being the Judge’s rejection of a GOP motion to prevent the D’s from introducing new evidence. Press accounts have reported this ruling as it relates to the 432 alleged illegal felon votes the D’s have found in pro-Rossi precincts (with more to come,) but my fly tells me the ruling came not in a discussion of illegal votes, but rather about whether the D’s could introduce evidence of additional ballots that should be counted, but weren’t.
Remember those 735 “signature not found” ballots that came to our attention after King County Councilman Larry Phillips learned his ballot was among them? 566 of them were counted after a legal tussle in the state Supreme Court, padding Christine Gregoire’s lead by 120 votes. You ever wonder what happened to the other 169 of them? Well most of these were not counted because King County couldn’t find the registration record by the certification deadline. There are also an additional 82 absentee ballots set aside because they “needed research” and 622 “cancelled” provisional ballots… all of which the Judge ruled the D’s may admit into evidence, representing a potential mother lode of Gregoire votes. Or so says the fly.
There were several other rulings that could play a major role in deciding the case. As previously reported, Judge Bridges has ruled that neither party may rely on the counties’ voter-credit records to prove that a vote was cast, calling crediting a “post-election administrative exercise” (told you so, Stefan.) Instead, the parties must find an actual signature in a poll-book or on an absentee or provisional envelope. In addition, Judge Bridges laid out six standards for proving an illegal felon vote: the voter was convicted of a felony, as an adult, was not given a deferred sentence, has not had his voting rights restored, had cast a ballot in the November election, and… actually voted for a gubernatorial candidate.
As David Postman reports in his updated article in the Seattle Times, Judge Bridges acknowledges that this won’t be easy.
“I recognize that it may just simply be impossible to come up with all of these elements I have referred to,” he said. But he told the attorneys, “come up with all you have.”
And it won’t be made any easier by the fact that they have only three weeks to compile their evidence, and only four days each to present it. And if that’s not hard enough, Judge Bridges ruled that he will require a relatively high standard of proof — “clear and convincing” — and not just for the felon ballots, but apparently, for the entire case as a whole. Indeed, my fly pointed out that the Judge “spontaneously” indicated that there seemed to be a theme to Rossi’s arguments, that somehow all they needed to prove was a bunch of errors… and he went out of his way to make it clear that they had to prove — by clear and convincing evidence — that Rossi actually won the election.
So those are the facts as I know them. I’ll post a few observations of my own, after a good night’s sleep.