A truly astounding process is underway in Washington State, where the margin in the Governor’s race now appears to be EIGHT VOTES, out of 2.9 million cast. And it further appears that the Democratic candidate is the one with the 8-vote lead, after earlier being behind first by 261 votes, and then by 42. Wow.
The outstanding issue in the race is the fate of 573 (or possibly more) ballots in the Democratic stronghold of King County. These ballots were very likely valid, but they were not considered because of a screw-up by county elections officials. The question, argued today in the Washington Supreme Court (you can listen here), is whether the county canvassing board may consider those ballots for inclusion in the total. (If they are included, it seems likely that they will favor the Democrat and will substantially widen the current 8-vote lead.)
This story is obviously incredibly important for lots of reasons. My point here, though, is to give kudos to the Republican Secretary of State, Sam Reed, who has taken the position in this case that those 573+ ballots SHOULD be considered, contrary to the view of the state Republican party, which says that they SHOULD NOT. Reed, sensibly, says that if in the process of conducting a recount you come across a screw-up that is not the fault of the voters, you should include those ballots. He may well have ended his career in the Republican party for taking this position – angry Republican mobs are now demanding that he be "fired." But how nice to see that there are still Republicans out there who are willing to stand up to the extreme elements of their party – a party that has demonstrated time and again that it will stop at nothing to win.
UPDATE: The Washington Supreme Court has now ruled unanimously that the ballots in question may be considered during the recount. A win for Democrats, the Republican Secretary of State, and democracy; a loss for the state Republican party and for others who don’t believe that all valid votes should be counted.
FURTHER UPDATE: King County has finished counting all the ballots, and the Democrat, Christine Gregoire, is the winner by 130 votes. But don’t expect the Republicans to concede anytime soon. They will try anything – they always do.