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Welcome to STop, the Seattle Times Opinion blog where our editorial writers and editors share their evolving thoughts on a variety of issues. STop is a place where opinion writers and readers can exchange views and readers can learn more about how editorial positions are formed.

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Lee Moriwaki
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Kate Riley
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December 22, 2004

Re: For shame

An excerpt from a thoughtful Seattle reader's response to my blog Wednesday:

It is far beyond time for the candidates, their campaigns, and the political parties to step back and let the statutory recount process run its course. I am tired of hearing Republicans talk about how Dino Rossi has "won twice." Nobody has won until completion of all statutorily-authorized recounts. Even then, there will very likely be an election contest in which both sides challenge thousands of rejected ballots -- and that, too, is their right.

While we may bemoan the lack of finality in a system such as this, it benefits no one to scream fraud and denigrate the motives of people exercising their legal rights.

I am tired of hearing Republicans say on the one hand that there is no purpose in recounting votes again because we can have no more confidence in one count than another, and on the other hand repeating the mantra that "we shouldn't be changing the rules halfway through." Which is it?

The fact of the matter is, our existing statutes mandate a machine recount in elections as close as this one was (and in fact, if the first machine count had been as accurate as the second was, state law would have mandated a hand recount). State law also authorizes a hand recount if requested by a candidate, political party, or any group of five or more voters willing to pay for it.

The Republicans' attempts to shortstop this process by pressuring Chris Gregoire to concede after the first and second counts, is much more an attempt to "change the rules halfway through" than any action the Democrats or any elections officials in any county have undertaken.

The fact of the matter is we have had an election in which the difference between the candidates' tallies is far less than the margin of error for any method of counting votes. We must accept that, as we must accept with confidence (as Danny Westneat's recent column "Counter for a day finds few bugs in recount process" gave me) the legislature's determination that a hand recount is the most accurate way to determine who won an election -- even if it is also the most expensive and least practical.

Let's get through this recount and see where we are. Let's stop denigrating anybody from exercising their legal rights, even as we might gently suggest to both sides that abiding by the results of the hand recount is in the greater public interest than continuing down the road of litigation with an election contest, at least in the absence of particular evidence of disenfranchisement of legal voters.

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Posted by Kate Riley at December 22, 2004 02:04 PM



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