1/10/2005

The Fraud We're Supposed To Ignore

Writing for The Wall Street Journal, John Fund points out more of the details of the stolen election in Washington state.

In Washington state, the errors by election officials have been compared to the antics of Inspector Clouseau, only clumsier. At least 1,200 more votes were counted in Seattle's King County than the number of individual voters who can be accounted for. Other counties saw similar, albeit smaller, excess vote totals. More than 300 military personnel who were sent their absentee ballots too late to return them have signed affidavits saying they intended to vote for Mr. Rossi. Some 1 out of 20 ballots in King County that officials felt were marked unclearly were "enhanced" with Wite-Out or pens so that some had their original markings obliterated.

Most disturbing is the revelation last week by King County officials that at least 348 unverified provisional ballots were fed directly into vote-counting machines. "Did it happen? Yes. Unfortunately, that's part of the process in King County," elections superintendent Bill Huennekens told the Seattle Times. "It's a very human process, and in some cases that did happen."

King County elections director Dean Logan, Mr. Huennekens' boss, also concedes the discrepancy between the number of ballots cast and the list of people who are recorded as voting. Even though the gap is 1,200 votes, he says, "that does not clearly indicate that the election would have turned out differently." Are voters supposed to trust an election merely because it can't "clearly" be shown to be hopelessly tainted? Mr. Logan is certainly singing a different tune now than he was on Nov. 18, when he responded to charges of voting irregularities in an e-mail to colleagues, which read in part: "Unfortunately, I have come to expect this kind of unsubstantiated crap. It's all too convenient, if not now fashionable, to stoop to this level when there is a close race."
Fund also points out that warning signs had been raised about King County's electoral problems.
Mr. Gorton notes that Sam Reed, the Republican secretary of state who certified Ms. Gregoire's victory, issued a report in 2003 noting that King County's sloppy election procedures could lead to just this sort of election meltdown. "The county is not consistent in their ballot enhancement procedures," Mr. Reed's report concluded. "Ballot enhancement, while done in full view of political observers, did not use the procedures outlined in the Washington Administrative Code. Inconsistencies in how this procedure is handled significantly increase the possibility of a successful election contest."
Washington state law does not require conclusive evidence of fraud in order for a re-vote to take place; the courts have the legal authority to void any election where the number of illegal or mistaken votes is larger than the margin of victory. That's plainly the case in the Washington gubernatorial race.

Nor does Gregoire's impending swearing-in bring closure to the matter. Fund points out the case of Elmer Anderson in 1962:
[Gregoire] would do well to recall what happened in Minnesota after the 1962 election for governor there. Republican Elmer Anderson won a squeaker and was sworn in, but a recount of disputed ballots ground on. A hundred days into Mr. Anderson's term, a panel of three state judges ruled that Democrat Karl Rolvaag had actually won by 91 votes. To end the legal wrangling, Mr. Anderson dropped any appeals and calmly left office, allowing Mr. Rolvaag to move into the governor's mansion.
I'm not advocating the idea that Gregoire should just quit. Rather, I think that she should demonstrate her desire to effectively serve the interests of all Washingtonians by calling for a re-vote.