Thursday, December 23, 2004

Recounting the options

I'm a just a little sickened.

No, I'm not referring to the fact that Gregoire has apparently won in the third "count" of ballots. No, I'm not referring to the snickering from King County. No, I'm not referring to the pathetic Democratic mantra's regarding counting every vote. I'm not even referring to madam ridiculous's quote after she deciding that we finally have an accurate count: "The election process is working exactly as it should." (see AP story)

Wow. God help us if this is the way the election process is supposed to work! How thrilling.

No, my reason for being a little sickened is the way the rules were changed along the way. The State Supreme Court decision to include 700 extra ballots from who knows where, is just the culmination of the matter. The reason the Republican don't have the nerve to take on that decision is because it would not win them the election--you see King County is hardly the only Democratic leaning county to find all sorts of new votes. While the focus may have been on King's infamous blunderings about for new votes, there were plenty of other counties with the same idea--and less attention from the media.

So the Republicans have instead embraced the court ruling and decided to abide by it:

"The Supreme Court just changed the rules," State GOP Chairman Chris Vance said. "Now we will aggressively fight by those new rules." (AP) This translates into a new effort to find all the excluded Republican ballots and fight for their equal inclusion. True, this might work but it is still a sad state of affairs when the Republicans start thinking short-term. Vance should have been much more on the ball all over the state. He could have nailed these people to the wall on every election board decision to include extras. If he had done so, and the State had ruled against him, then an appeal to the US Supreme Court would have sealed the deal. They already established precedent in 2000: no rule changes during the election!


How exasperating can one thing get? All the media coverage has been on Gregoire: "Should Rossi concede? Do you believe this is a conclusive victory? blah blah..."

The most anyone asked Rossi when he was governor elect was "how are you feeling?"
<< Home 3 Comments:
Blogger Wheelson said...

How did the Supreme Court ruling change election rules? I thought they only said that current state law allows votes that were mistakenly categorized as having mismatched signatures can be reconsidered because the recanvassing statute can be employed during a recount? That doesn't seem like a change in the rules. A change in the rules would mean a new law is enacted and that didn't happen.

One reason why so much attention was placed on King County, other than the fact that it is a big Democratic county, is because many other counties employed the recanvassing statute. I guess one way of putting it is "adding votes" but another way of putting it is "employing the recanvassing statute" which is part of election law.

Was the statute employed with a bias to find Democratic votes? Oh I sure hope not. Do Republicans have a right to challenge votes that were excluded unfairly? Sure.

Also, since this is a state election, does the US Supreme Court have jurisdiction? I don't believe they would be able to hear any case involving state election laws...unless it is constitutionality of the law that is in dispute.

12:10 PM, December 27, 2004  
Blogger Mark R said...

A rule is changed when you redefine "recount." There is no such thing as including new ballots in a "recount" because that would be a new count. The office of the Attorney General even acknowledged as much.

There is a reason that new ballots should not be counted after being previously rejected. There is just no safe way of doing that without risking serious abuse of discretionary actions. This should not be allowed and the 2000 precedent should have been enough to make this clear.

Whatcom County had their own batch of extras which they included. I believe that was a mistake as well--even though the majority of them went to Rossi and I'm a Republican, I still believe that was a mistake.

You are right that the US Supreme Court is outside of its jurisdiction if there is no unconstitutionality at work. However, I'm fairly confident that a US Supreme Court case could be built.

If there is concern about unfair exclusion of ballots, then there ought to be other methods used to "fix" the problem. We do have laws regarding challenging elections. There are many different cases that can be made in order to overturn the results and initiate a new vote.

10:54 PM, December 28, 2004  
Blogger Wheelson said...

I guess I still disagree. A rule, as far as an election is concerned, is a law or statute or ordinance or something official that is written for everyone to see. As we know however, written laws are not enough to cover every situation. Along with the law we have interpretation. Courts help interpret law and help set precedent to help future courts interpret laws. In this case hasn't the Washington State Supreme Court just added additional information (interpretation) to existing law to help us know how to apply it correctly? Is that a rule change? I guess it all depends on how you say it so perhaps it's not a point that is all that worth arguing about.

What is probably more interesting to argue about is whether the court was a little too liberal in their interpretation, or they decided to interpret law at the wrong time and set standards for considering ballots when perhaps that is the legislature's job. However, sweeping claims that "rules were changed along the way" as if to imply that the rules were changed specifically to rob the Republicans of the victory is rather argumentative in my opinion and inflammatory rhetoric rather than a valid, well founded opinion.

Also, remember that the 2000 Supreme Court ruling set in motion the recipe for perpetual conflict in election processes by leaving open the possibility that any state court can substitute itself for the state legislature by creating new rules.

I think you should re-examine the 2000 supreme court ruling that you refer to in your original post. It did not say in effect, "no rule changes", rather it said the exact opposite. Among other things, it said in effect, "State Supreme courts can change the rules, not just interpret law but add actual new rules such as new deadlines and new recounts, saying which ballots should be counted and designating itself the final arbiter of who is certified the winner of a contest." The Florida Supreme Court reasoned that any differences within the state regarding the standards used to count votes violated a person's right to have their vote fully count. The, "one man, one vote" principle was the foundation of their reasoning (which you also described as a pathetic Democratic mantra). Therefore, the Florida courts changed the way things were done by setting new deadlines and ordering recounts along with setting new standards regarding which ballots could be counted. They changed the rules to help ensure that "one man, one vote." I didn't like it then, and should our Supreme Court change rules I'd be unhappy now. If they interpret law, which is their job, and limit themselves to that then I am happy.

I would also disagree that the law allowing canvassing boards to fix mistakes involving ballots risks, "serious abuse of discretionary actions". Canvassing boards are made up of people from both sides, along with observers and the entire process is transparent and public. Is there proof that such abuses occurred? If so, let's analyze them in court, but Dan Satterberg, chief of staff for Republican King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng, said the county election system has problems, but also said, “I do not have any concerns about fraud. I think the people in charge here are very professional.”

10:53 AM, December 29, 2004  

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