Revote fans rally here

It will be a familiar sight but a new issue when demonstrators take to streets in Oak Harbor Saturday.

In the past, the busy corner of Highway 20 and Whidbey Avenue has hosted numerous support the troops rallies and groups of levy and bond issue backers.

But Jan. 8, the issue will the the disputed outcome of the gubernatorial race, in which Democrat Christine Gregoire was certified the winner last week by only 129 votes statewide.

In response, Republicans around the state are organizing rallies in favor of a second vote for governor. Oak Harbor’s “Rally to Revote” will begin at 10 a.m.

Andy Valrosa, chairman of the Island County Republican Party, said the rally isn’t just for Republicans. He invites independents and Democrats as well.

“This is a non-partisian issue,” he said Monday, claiming that the nation is laughing at Washington’s election process.

“We laughed at Florida four years ago,” he said, referring to the disputed 2000 presidential election. “And now they’re laughing at Washington.”

Gregoire pulled ahead of Republican Dino Rossi on the second recount, which was done by hand. Rossi held narrow leads after the first count of the Nov. 2 election ballots, and after the mandatory machine recount that followed.

But populous King County, the seat of Democratic power in the state, put Gregoire over the top in the hand recount. Republicans have loudly complained about how the recount was handled, as a number of votes that hadn’t been counted in the first two rounds were counted in the hand tally.

But Secretary of State Sam Reed, a Republican, accepted the King County totals and certified the results as official last Thursday.

Republicans have been looking for vote count irregularities since then, and not only in King County.

Valrosa wrote a letter to the Island County Auditor, asking that the canvassing board be reconvened to reconsider 39 ballots that were not counted for lack of signatures, and a few others that arrived after the deadline.

“They have no plans to meet again, I was told,” Valrosa said of Island County’s response.

The “Rally to Revote” events are aimed at convincing the Democrat-controlled Legislature to order a revote when it convenes Jan. 10.

The aim, according to Valrosa, is to restore confidence in the voting process. “We want a clear message that they are elected by the public to support our opinions . . . they need to make that happen,” he said of a revote.

Republicans, including Oak Harbor Rep. Barbara Bailey, support the revote effort.

“The recount was so subjective, with rules applied differently, that this (revote) would really serve the public better,” Bailey said Monday.

Of course, it’s unlikely Democrats will agree. This was acknowledged by John Sattgast, senior information officer for Republican media services, who spent time with Bailey in Oak Harbor on Monday.

“The Democrats are in control so it’ll probably go down,” he said of the revote proposal. “Then Dino has his options from there.”

Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, concurs that the recount is unlikely to pass the Legislature.

“I don’t think it has a shot,” she said Tuesday. “State law doesn’t have a procedure for it, and we’d have to change state law.”

Haugen doubts there was fraud in the election, but said that’s a question for the courts to determine, not the Legislature.

Republicans hope they can produce enough questions about the hand recount that the judicial branch will order a new vote, assuming Rossi decides to carry the battle to the courthouse.

Gregoire is scheduled to be sworn in as governor Jan. 12.

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