Even as the state Supreme Court prepares to hear oral arguments (1:30PM, C-SPAN2) on whether the gubernatorial re-recount should include a recanvassing of ballots previously rejected, the case may have already become moot.
As reported today in The Seattle Times, the rejected ballots included that of King County Council Chair Larry Phillips, whose absentee ballot was tossed because his signature wasn’t on file with county elections officials. Philips voted absentee because he was campaigning for John Kerry in Ohio; had he voted at the polls as is his custom, his vote would have counted.
Ooops… there goes the GOP argument that voters who had their ballots rejected were either stupid or didn’t follow directions.
King County Elections Director Dean Logan said he didn’t know how many ballots might have been rejected for the same reason. Election workers will spend the day looking for other ballots that were rejected for the same reason, and present them to the canvassing board.
As I noted last week, Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed has already stated that canvassing boards have some discretion to re-examine ballots:
Reed said county canvassing boards could re-examine some rejected ballots “if there is a problem brought to their attention,” But, he said, “they really don’t have the authority to on their own decide that not only are we going to do a recount, but we’re also going to systematically go back” and recanvass. That could change if a systematic error was discovered, he said, adding he thought that was unlikely.
If Phillips was registered to vote, but had no signature on file, how could it be anything but a bureaucratic error? So I guess the question is, what exactly does Reed mean by “systematic”? If a number of other ballots were rejected for similar reasons, isn’t that systematic? And if there are systematic errors in one part of the system, doesn’t that call into question the entire process?
GOPolitburo Chair Chris Vance would like you to believe that raising these issues leads us down the road towards disaster:
“The Democrats are asking for far more than counting a few ballots that were missed the first time. They want them to look at every ballot that was rejected the first time. It would destroy our election process.”
But explain to me how double-checking the legitimacy of a ballot before discarding it would “destroy our election process”?
It is time for King County Democrats to pressure the Democratically-controlled canvassing board to agree to re-examine all the rejected ballots, before the Supremes hand down their decision. Thousands of ballots have been tossed out by low-level election workers, and these voters deserve that have their ballots reviewed by the canvassing board before they are summarily disenfranchised.
Watching the oral arguments before the Supremes, the SOS attorney pointed out the following statute, 29A.60.221:
Whenever the canvassing board finds that there is an apparent discrepancy or an inconsistency in the returns of a primary or election, the board may recanvass the ballots or voting devices in any precincts of the county. The canvassing board shall conduct any necessary recanvass activity on or before the last day to certify the primary or election and correct any error and document the correction of any error that it finds.
So my point remains, if the GOP doesn’t want the rest of the state to recanvass, that’s fine by me. But I think enough errors have been uncovered in King County to warrant that the rejected ballots be brought before the canvassing board… for the first time.