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State won't investigate election anomalies

03:59 PM PST on Monday, November 29, 2004

KING5.com   AP

Democratic candidate for governor Christine Gregoire, November 4, 1004.

The Washington Secretary of State won't investigate anomalies in the vote counting process as asked pointed out by gubernatorial hopeful Christine Gregoire.

Gregoire, the state's current attorney general, apparently lost her race to Republican Dino Rossi by the closest margin in Washington State history last week after an electronic recount of ballots showed the candidates only 42 votes apart after 2.8 million votes were cast.

After the recount totals were made public, the Gregoire camp sent a letter to Secretary of State Sam Reed asking his office to address anomalies in the vote counting process, including why thousands of provisional ballots had been thrown out without being counted, why some counties showed more votes than voters and why as many as 15,000 votes had changed between the initial tally and the recount.

In a response sent to the Gregoire camp Monday morning, State's Director of Elections Nick Handy, in the Secretary of State's office, said state law puts the responsibility for sorting out elections anomalies in the hands of the counties.

"At best, the Secretary of State plays an advisory role in this process," Handy wrote.

Dueling letters followed Monday, both arguing whether the Reed's office did or did not have the right or responsibility to investigate the problems Democrats pointed out.

In its response to the state, attorney for the Democrats Kevin Hamilton wrote that state "certification on incomplete and facially flawed information from the counties, particularly in a race this close and this important is likely to create permanent doubt about the validity of the results."
In the meantime, the Gregoire camp is actively trying to both raise money to keeps the campaign doors open as well as pay for a statewide recount, according to campaign spokesman Chuck Hunter.

Hunter said that the campaign is also contacting individual counties asking them to look for or address voting problems.

In Franklin County, for instance, there were 84 more votes counted than the number of people registered to vote in that county, Hunter said.

But shortly after, the Franklin County canvassing board announced that after hearing from the Auditor's office, the board decided that the Democrats had incomplete information regarding the number of ballots and the number of votes cast in the governor's race.

The board decided that the Franklin County results will not change.

Washington state Democratic Party Chairman Paul Berendt says the party wants to see voting information down to the precinct level before it asks for a recount in the governor's race.

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