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Skagit County adds 11 votes to Rossi's lead
By JAMES GELUSO   Skagit Valley Herald   16 December 2004

In a race where the two top candidates for governor are separated by thousandths of a percent, 11 votes is a very big deal.

That's what Skagit County gave Republican Dino Rossi Wednesday after completing its hand count of ballots, padding his statewide lead over Christine Gregoire to 121 votes.

The hand recount actually took five votes away from Rossi, compared to the machine recount done last month. But the latest count took 16 votes away from Democrat Christine Gregoire, further increasing Rossi's narrow lead.

The hand recount was part of a statewide effort, paid for by the Democratic Party, to recount ballots in the state's gubernatorial election. After Rossi won the first count by 261 votes, a mandatory machine recount reduced his margin of victory to 42 votes.

The shift in Skagit County results was dominated by a single precinct, Mount Vernon 15, where about 50 ballots were apparently counted twice during the machine recount last month, said Elections Supervisor Erika Kubischta.

At the time of the machine recount, it was thought that the extra 50 or so ballots that popped up in the precinct were part of a batch of ballots that was mistakenly not counted the first time.

Now, Kubischta says there were about 100 ballots that weren't counted the first time - spread around different precincts - and about 50 from Mount Vernon that were counted twice during the recount.
Fixing that problem meant Gregoire had 24 votes taken away from her total and Rossi lost 21.

In the county's other 112 precincts, Rossi had a net gain of 16 votes and Gregoire had eight, compared to the machine recount.

The actual results varied by precinct.

n In seven precincts, Rossi gained one vote. In four precincts, he gained two votes. In six precincts, he lost one vote.

n In six precincts, Gregoire gained one vote. In two precincts, she gained two votes. In three precincts, she lost one vote. In one precinct, she lost two.
n In three precincts, Gregoire and Rossi each gained one vote.

n In two precincts, Rossi gained one and Gregoire lost one. In one precinct, Rossi gained two and Gregoire lost one. And in one precinct, Gregoire gained one and Rossi lost one.

The total, at the end of what promises to be the final tally of Skagit County votes in 2004, was Rossi with 27,219 and Gregoire with 23,250, for a Rossi lead of 3,969 votes.

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