Chris Muir, the Day-by-day cartoonist has the gubernatorial election result in Washington State to a tee.


Lead switches in Washington State

The counting is over.

Christine Gregoire, the Democrat candidate for Governor of Washington State has overturned a 261 vote deficit on polling day (November 2) to win by 130. The score is subject to final confirmation by the Washington Secretary of State's office and of course, the lawyers...

As a former candidate myself in three much smaller scale local elections, I can honestly say that Dino Rossi the Republican candidate must be absolutely gutted.

Having apparently won by 261 votes, Rossi saw his lead whittled to 42 by the combination of a machine recount and what to a British audience can only be described as bizarre election procedures. His lead then grew to 50, before King County's late return changed the outcome.

First, voters who somehow were not included on electoral lists were allowed to vote "provisionally". Bluntly, this is nothing less than an open-door to massive voting fraud or error. As a means of encouraging turn-out it is simply crazy. It encourages people to not bother registering to vote properly and gives election officials an easy excuse for lazyness ("Don't bother with that, Mr Smith, just show up at the polling station on the day and my colleagues will let you vote").

Second, those who filled in ballot papers incorrectly but made a "clear intent" were added. This procedure in isolation is perfectly legitimate, provided of course that the same standards are used in all polling stations. Given the bizarre fluctuations in recount scores from different counties, let's just say I think the process was run by incompetent amateurs or crooks.

Third, postal votes franked on the day of the election were allowed. If the US Post Office is as slack as its British counterpart, then the practice of posting letters with the wrong frank mark (i.e. posted the day after the date marked on the envelope) cannot be ruled out. Even if no fraud occurred, it is imbecilic to have an election held up by the post. There is no excuse for not having a cut-off of votes received before or on polling day.

Fourth, it appears that different standards were applied for accepting votes during the course of the recounts. It can't be fraud! It's too obvious, it must be incompetence.

Fifth, allowing King County to report after the rest of the State is ridiculous. It means that any corrupt practice in that district will automatically succeed in its object. If the King County favoured candidate needs 100 extra votes to win, no problem, they can be found... The truth is that no result where the lead changes once the last county declares a result several days after the others can be accepted without serious concerns for the propriety of the counting process.

Whoever lost this election has more than sufficient grounds for feeling cheated. How did over 500 ballot papers disappear for a month? If Rossi had won, Gregoire would surely want to know.

What really bothers me is the thought that the US government is supervising elections in civil war-torn Iraq in January 2005. How the hell will the Iraqi parties deal with this sort of incompetence?

Kos says shoot Kerry and his team

I am reminded of the poster in the Kingston-upon-Thames offices of a local branch of a British political party in 1987.

The Six Phases of an Election

1. Enthusiasm
2. Disillusionment
3. Panic
4. The Search for the Guilty
5. The Punishment of the Innocent
6. Rewards and Honours for Non-participants

Apologies for the relative dearth of postings this week. I'm waiting for news from Olympia, Washington about the gubernatorial race.