As most of you know, at the same time the Democrats requested a hand recount last Friday, they also filed suit asking the state Supreme Court to order uniform, statewide standards for conducting the recount.
There’s been a lot of whining from the Rossi camp about Democrats trying to “game the system”, accusing them of “going nuclear” by dragging the election into the courts. But there’s been very little discussion about the details of what the Dems are actually asking for.
So in the interest of promoting a more informed debate (or as racist, hate-mongering Stefen calls it, “uninformed debate”), I have obtained copies of the court documents and posted them online. You can download a ZIP file containing all 34 documents, or simply retrieve a PDF of the brief.
But I believe the following excerpt does a pretty good job of explaining what the Dems hope to get from the court:
The following uniform standards are needed to ensure the orderly, accurate, and lawful conduct of the hand recount: (1) standards to ensure that all ballots rejected in previous counts are fully canvassed so that the hand recount produces as complete and accurate a tabulation as possible; (2) standards for evaluating previously-rejected signatures according to the more liberal standards applied in most counties; and (3) standards that allow party representatives to meaningfully witness the hand recount, by observing all actual ballots being counted.
I doubt number three is going to create much controversy, but numbers one and two are sure to raise objections from Republicans, because in a sense, technically, the Dems really are trying to the game the system. That is, they want the recount to be executed according to rules they think will favor Gregoire.
But in a sense, Republicans have already gamed the system by having Sam Reed issue guidelines that they believe will favor Rossi.
None of this should be particularly shocking — with the stakes so high, why on earth would either party cease the sort of legal and political gamesmanship that defines everyday partisan politics? And as far as I’m concerned, better to go to court now and clearly define the rules, than contest the election after the fact.
As to the Dems arguments, well, I’m not an attorney (again, sorry mom), but if they hired me to do PR, I believe I could make a convincing case in the court of public opinion. Apparently, King County used rather strict standards in evaluating signatures on provisional ballots, whereas other counties were more “liberal”… and some didn’t look at the signatures at all. Furthermore, the law doesn’t define a recount as “the same ballots counted in the original count simply retabulated” as Secretary of State Sam Reed does. The law says “all ballots cast.”
But legal issues aside, the question I ask is: “If King rejected ballots that would have counted in other counties, and this is enough to swing the election to Rossi, have we honored the will of the voters to the best of our ability?” I say “no.” But then, I’m openly biased, so take my opinion with a lump of salt.
Anyway, I haven’t finished reading through all the supporting documents — and I certainly haven’t seen any briefs from the other side — so my impression of both the strength and the reasonableness of the Democratic complaint could change. All I ask is, if you’re going to dismiss me as an ignorant, lazy, partisan hack (or a brutal, African dictator) who doesn’t understand the law… the least you can do is first read the brief for yourself before posting your comments.