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King County Council chairman finds his ballot was rejected

12/13/2004   Associated Press

The question of whether to reconsider rejected ballots in Washington state's closest-in-history election for governor is no academic matter for King County Council Chairman Larry Phillips.

In checking the names of constituents whose votes had been rejected Sunday, a day before a state Supreme Court hearing on the issue, Phillips, D-Seattle, found his own name on the list, The Seattle Times reported.

"I was under the absolute impression (that) not only I voted, but followed the instructions correctly," Phillips said. "If it can happen to the King County Council chairman, it can happen to anyone else."

Rejected ballots could loom large in the manual recount of ballots after an initial tally showed Republican Dino Rossi defeating Democrat Christine O. Gregoire by 261 votes out of nearly 2.9 million cast and a machine recount cut his margin of victory to 42 votes.

Democrats have asked the high court hearing to order that rejected ballots be reconsidered by county canvassing boards, a move that Republicans have resisted and that that state election officials say could delay the recount into next year.

Without reconsideration of rejected ballots, officials have said the hand recount should be done by Christmas.

Apparently, Phillips' absentee ballot was rejected was because his signature isn't on file with the county elections office, county elections director Dean Logan said.

Phillips, who was in Ohio campaigning for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry on Election Day, said there might have been a mix-up because he doesn't normally vote absentee.

Logan said he didn't know how many other ballots might have been rejected for the same reason but added that election workers would check on Monday. Phillips' ballot and any others that went uncounted for the same reason will be presented to the canvassing board Wednesday, he added.

Any such votes that are found to be legitimate would have been "rejected on a false premise," Logan said.

"If those were legitimate votes that were cast legally, they could be counted," he said. "It would be an irregularity or an error made in the canvas."


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