Politics & Policy

Down For The Recount

No one can know who won Washington State's gubernatorial race.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece appears in the February 14, 2005, issue of National Review.

“Rossi Re-Vote.”

That’s how they answer the phones these days at the headquarters of Dino Rossi, the Republican who, after one election-night count, one machine recount, one excruciating manual recount, and more than a few electoral oddities, lost the race for governor of Washington State by 129 votes. Rossi, a former state senator, is now in court, contesting the election results and asking that a new vote be held.

There seems little doubt that Rossi deserves to be governor at least as much as Democrat Christine Gregoire, the state’s three-term attorney general who was declared the winner and sworn in on January 12. But at this point, after all the counting, nobody claims to know precisely how many votes were cast for each candidate last November. Nobody claims that it is even possible to know that number. The only question now is what to do about it.

About 2.8 million people went to the polls in Washington State on November 2, and what happened after the voting became one of the most vertiginous political roller-coaster rides in recent history. On election night, Rossi was slightly ahead. By the next day, as the votes from heavily Democratic King County, home of Seattle, continued to come in, Gregoire took a lead that grew as large as 16,000 votes. By the morning of November 9, that lead had been cut in half. But at that point, more than 200,000 ballots had not yet been counted. Later that night, results came in from a number of Republican-leaning counties, and Rossi took a lead of about 2,000 votes. The day after that, it stretched to 3,500…

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