As reported in the Seattle Times (and nearly everywhere else), the WA State Democrats delivered a $730,000 check to the Secretary of State’s office today, and officially requested an unprecedented statewide hand recount of over 2.8 million ballots cast in the governor’s race.
The party also filed suit in the state Supreme Court, seeking a ruling that would allow all ballots cast to be considered, not just those counted in the previous two counts. Republicans are calling this a “nuclear bomb”, but the issue at hand is really very simple.
RCW 29A.64.011 states the following:
An officer of a political party or any person for whom votes were cast at any election may file a written application for a recount of the votes or a portion of the votes cast at that election for all candidates for election to that office.
And RCW 29A.64.050 further specifies:
a complete recount of all ballots cast for the office
What the Democrats are asking for is a ruling on what actually constitutes “all ballots cast”. Is it actually all the ballots cast in the election, or only those ballots already counted? The Democrats would like to start from scratch, as if the election just occurred, and reexamine the signatures of those absentee and provisional ballots previously ruled invalid. Seems reasonable enough.
D’s are also asking for a consistent standard to be applied across all counties in regard to signature matching on absentee and provisional ballots. The so-called “threatening letter” the D’s sent Wednesday to the Secretary of State alleges that King County rejected over 1500 absentee ballots and hundreds of provisional ballots because signatures did not sufficiently match those on record, yet a few counties “admitted candidly that they did not review the provisional ballot signatures at all.”
Republicans argue that a “recount” involves counting again something that has been counted before, and thus only those ballots counted the last time around should be reexamined… a reasonable definition of the word, but alas, one that does not appear in the RCW. This definition is further undermined by the fact that first “recount” included hundreds of ballots that were not part of the original “count.”
So, which way will the Supremes rule, if they rule at all? Hell if I know, for while I’m fairly competent at reading the law, I am — much to my mother’s chagrin — not an attorney. But either way, it doesn’t sound to me like the “nuclear bomb” the R’s are making it out to be.