The contest is over the contest.
The GOP attorney tried to argue out of both sides of his mouth. He essentially admits that the “safety valve” (RCW 29A.60.210) applies to the recount, but not to these 723 ballots, because they have been previously “rejected.” He also argues that the proper place for the Democrats to address these ballots is in a contest, but apparently it would do irreparable harm to Dino Rossi, if he had to challenge them in a contest.
Essentially, there is going to be a contest, and the GOP would rather it be filed by the Democrats, so they can accuse them of dragging this through the courts. At the very least, they would prefer that the burden be on the Democrats to prove in a contest that these ballots should be counted. Oh… and apparently it is all Larry Phillips fault.
As I figured, the GOP case all comes down to whether these ballots were “rejected,” and the King County attorney clearly argues that there was “no affirmative rejection”, but rather, that the ballots were “misfiled.” That said, she also argues that the canvassing board has the right to re-examine rejected ballots, at its discretion.
However, the most important new piece of information learned in the hearing this morning is that King County has located 583 signatures out of the 723 ballots in question. It seems likely that these ballots would add about 120 votes to Christine Gregoire’s margin… if counted.