Opinion

SOUNDOFF: Let’s put the governor’s race behind us

Christine Gregoire is our new governor. She assumes the office for the same reason all her predecessors have been our governor: She received more votes than her opponents.

Some rabid partisans in our state simply won’t accept the results, citing unproven allegations of corruption. These suspicions are not supported by the facts.

Republican and Democratic auditors from around the state certified the results in their counties. Our Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed also certified the results. The Washington Supreme Court issued two unanimous decisions in the case, one in support of Republican arguments and one supporting Democrats. All of these honorable officials have executed their roles without partisanship and under the rule of law.

The auditor and elections director of King County have come under the most intense attack. Clearly, mistakes were made. Ballots were overlooked or misplaced. To their credit, these officials admitted their mistakes and publicly pointed out the misplaced ballots. A corrupt official would have slipped these ballots into the pot behind the scenes. During the hand recount, each day’s vote was given to both candidates and both parties by King County. Only when he fell behind did candidate Dino Rossi object to anything.

I do believe we must get to the bottom of what happened. I am hopeful that the current legal action will fully explore all these allegations.   

But criticizing elections officials for following the law is beyond the pale. Elections officials are required by law to determine a voter’s clear intent during a manual recount even if the ballot is filled out improperly. When Republicans controlled the state Senate, they had the opportunity to change this law. They retained it because members of both parties agree that all voters who make their choices clear deserve to have their vote counted.

The law also allows for a manual recount in extremely close contests because it produces the most accurate tally. The secretary of state recently reiterated that conclusion. The hand recount is conducted under the supervision of both parties, the press and interested members of the public. The ballot is reviewed by all, and then tallied for the person all agreed should have the vote. In the event of a dispute, the ballot is sent to the canvassing board for further review before being tallied or set aside as invalid. Again, the Republican Senate could have changed the law, but chose to let it stand.

I am particularly upset by the cynical claim that members of the military were disenfranchised. This is nothing more than an outrageous attempt by the GOP to use our brave fighting men and women for their own political and public relations effort for a do-over election. Every auditor in this state, including King County, followed federal and state law that provides additional flexibility for servicemen and women to vote, even under the most difficult circumstances. Again, I am confident that the current legal action will cut through the rhetoric and bring out the true facts.

The election was conducted by honest and honorable elected officials, appointed officials and volunteers. Yes, some mistakes were made. If the law was not followed, the courts will correct it. The Washington courts are not corrupt and are conducted by honest and honorable men and women.

When the courts make their final determination, I will certainly accept it. I hope Dino Rossi’s supporters can accept it, too. It is more important to have an honest process than a victory for the candidate we support.

Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen represents the 10th Legislative District, which includes Whidbey and Camano islands, and portions of Snohomish and Skagit counties.

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