Clicking on banner ads keeps JWR alive
Jewish World Review Jan. 10, 2005 / 29 Teves, 5765

John H. Fund

Fund
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

A stolen election in Washington state? Not if bloggers can help it


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | The new media — talk radio, bloggers and independent watchdog groups — have followed up their success in exposing Dan Rather's use of phony memos by showcasing another scandal: Washington state's bizarre race for governor, which features a vote count so close and compromised it allows Florida to retire the crown for electoral incompetence. If Democrat Christine Gregoire, who leads by 129 votes and is scheduled to take the office Wednesday, eventually has to face a new election, it will have been in large part because of the new media's ability to give the story altitude before it reached the courts.


When the idea of a revote was first broached three weeks ago by a moderate Republican former secretary of state, Ms. Gregoire's reaction was swift: "Absolutely ludicrous." With Republican candidate Dino Rossi filing a formal court challenge last Friday alleging a massive breakdown in the vote count, she may still think the idea of a court-ordered revote is laughable, but her legal team is taking it seriously. "There's not even a 50-50 chance a court would rule with Republicans to set aside the election," says Jenny Durkan, a Gregoire confidant who is representing state Democrats. Hardly an expression of supreme confidence.


The feeling that a revote is possible is buoyed by polls showing the public still thinks Mr. Rossi, who won the first two vote counts before falling behind in the third, actually won. His legal team has also compiled a strong body of evidence showing irregularities, certainly one far more detailed than that which North Carolina officials used last week to order a statewide March revote of the race for agriculture commissioner after a computer ate 4,438 ballots in a GOP-leaning county. Without those votes, the GOP candidate was leading by 2,287 votes out of 3.5 million cast.

In Washington state, the errors by election officials have been compared to the antics of Inspector Clouseau, only clumsier. At least 1,200 more votes were counted in Seattle's King County than the number of individual voters who can be accounted for. Other counties saw similar, albeit smaller, excess vote totals. More than 300 military personnel who were sent their absentee ballots too late to return them have signed affidavits saying they intended to vote for Mr. Rossi. Some 1 out of 20 ballots in King County that officials felt were marked unclearly were "enhanced" with Wite-Out or pens so that some had their original markings obliterated.


Most disturbing is the revelation last week by King County officials that at least 348 unverified provisional ballots were fed directly into vote-counting machines. "Did it happen? Yes. Unfortunately, that's part of the process in King County," elections superintendent Bill Huennekens told the Seattle Times. "It's a very human process, and in some cases that did happen."


King County elections director Dean Logan, Mr. Huennekens' boss, also concedes the discrepancy between the number of ballots cast and the list of people who are recorded as voting. Even though the gap is 1,200 votes, he says, "that does not clearly indicate that the election would have turned out differently." Are voters supposed to trust an election merely because it can't "clearly" be shown to be hopelessly tainted? Mr. Logan is certainly singing a different tune now than he was on Nov. 18, when he responded to charges of voting irregularities in an e-mail to colleagues, which read in part: "Unfortunately, I have come to expect this kind of unsubstantiated crap. It's all too convenient, if not now fashionable, to stoop to this level when there is a close race."


Slade Gorton, a Republican former state attorney general and U.S. senator who is advising Mr. Rossi, says a court should order a revote rather than declare valid one of the two earlier vote counts that Mr. Rossi won. "No one can govern effectively under the cloud this race has created," Mr. Gorton says. He notes that state law doesn't require any showing of fraud to contest an election. "That is irrelevant to whether the election should be done over," he says. "The law is quite clear in giving a court the right to void any election where the number of illegal or mistaken votes exceeds the margin of victory, and it has done so in the past."


Mr. Gorton notes that Sam Reed, the Republican secretary of state who certified Ms. Gregoire's victory, issued a report in 2003 noting that King County's sloppy election procedures could lead to just this sort of election meltdown. "The county is not consistent in their ballot enhancement procedures," Mr. Reed's report concluded. "Ballot enhancement, while done in full view of political observers, did not use the procedures outlined in the Washington Administrative Code. Inconsistencies in how this procedure is handled significantly increase the possibility of a successful election contest."

Donate to JWR


Much of the evidence uncovered on King County's flouting of election laws first appeared on Soundpolitics.com, a blog run by computer consultant Stefan Sharkansky. A former liberal who worked for Michael Dukakis in 1988, Mr. Sharkansky calls himself a "9/11 conservative mugged by reality." He uses his knowledge of statistics and probability to illustrate how unlikely some of the reported vote count changes are. He also uncovered the fact that in Precinct 1823 in downtown Seattle, 527, or 70%, of the 763 registered voters used 500 Fourth Avenue — the King County administration building — as their residential address. A full 61% of the precinct's voters only registered in the last year, and nearly all of them "live" at 500 Fourth Avenue. By contrast, only 13% of all of King County voters registered in 2004.


Not all of the voters at the county building are homeless or hard to find. A noted local judge and her husband have been registered at the county building for years. When I called her to ask why, she became flustered and said it was because of security concerns, specifically because "the Mexican mafia are out to get me." When I pointed out that her home address and phone number were easily found on the Internet and in property records, she ended the conversation by refusing to answer a question about whether she had improperly voted for state legislative candidates who would represent the county building but not her residence.


Even liberal officeholders in Seattle privately acknowledge that the combination of bloggers, talk radio and local think tanks like the Evergreen Freedom Foundation have helped skeptics of the election's validity win the public relations war. Evergreen president Bob Williams says his group isn't focused on overturning Ms. Gregoire's election so much as on highlighting the obvious problems in the vote count that cry out for permanent legislative fixes. He notes the public is paying attention: A poll taken last week by Seattle's KING-TV found that by a 20-point margin state residents back a new election, and by 53% to 36% they don't think Mr. Rossi should concede.


Seattle Times columnist Joni Balter says the attack on the vote count by Republican-leaning media "is by now a near-military operation — air, land and sea." She blames radio hosts Kirby Wilbur, John Carlson and Mike Siegel for keeping listeners updated and in a constant state of outrage. "There's a lot to be outraged about," responds Mr. Carlson, an unsuccessful candidate for governor in 2000. "Last week, I did 13 out of my show's 15 hours on the election and people wanted more."


In his new book, "Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation," radio host and law professor Hugh Hewitt calls the new media a form of "open-source journalism" in which gatekeepers can no longer control what reaches the public. Readers and listeners interact with bloggers and talk show hosts so that a free market of ideas and information can emerge. "Blogs analyzed the Washington state election shenanigans in a more sophisticated and comprehensive way than the mainstream media," he told me. "When a swarm of blogs and new media focus on a story it can fundamentally alter the general public's understanding of an event or person. Ask John Kerry, Trent Lott, Tom Daschle and soon-to-retire CBS anchor Dan Rather if they think the new media changed people's perceptions of them."

Similarly, when Christine Gregoire takes the oath of office as governor on Wednesday, she will still face a threat to her seat of power should the new media keep up the pressure and more evidence of a tainted vote count emerges in court.


She would do well to recall what happened in Minnesota after the 1962 election for governor there. Republican Elmer Anderson won a squeaker and was sworn in, but a recount of disputed ballots ground on. A hundred days into Mr. Anderson's term, a panel of three state judges ruled that Democrat Karl Rolvaag had actually won by 91 votes. To end the legal wrangling, Mr. Anderson dropped any appeals and calmly left office, allowing Mr. Rolvaag to move into the governor's mansion.


You can expect the new media to talk up that historical example a lot as they seek to instill in the public's mind the belief that Washington state's election for governor isn't over just because after Wednesday someone occupies the office.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


JWR contributor John H. Fund is author, most recently, of "Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)

Comment on this column by clicking here.

Up

01/03/05 The Unsung Maverick
12/27/04 All the Votes Fit to Count: Ukraine gets to revote. Why can't Washington state?
11/22/04 It's time to bring some intellectual diversity to America's colleges and universities
10/26/04 Turnout Titans: Meet the gurus of getting out the vote.
10/18/04: We May HAVA Problem: Will ‘provisional ballots’ be the new chads?
10/12/04: Getting Physical: Union thugs target Republicans
10/04/04: The Producer: Meet Mary Mapes, the crusading journalist behind CBS's current troubles
09/23/04: Ballots or Briefs? In election 2004, the man with the most lawyers may win
09/13/04: I'd Rather Be Blogging: CBS stonewalls as "guys in pajamas" uncover a fraud
08/30/04: Tryout Time: The 2008 presidential campaign gets under way in New York.
08/23/04: Why we're refighting Vietnam: Blame McCain-Feingold
08/18/04: Silence of the Lamb: C-SPAN cancels 'Booknotes'
08/16/04: Louisiana North: Why New Jersey is a pit of corruption
08/02/04: Patriotic liberalism
07/28/04: Caught in the Web: How Democrats mobilized online and other campaign tales
06/28/04: Bad ACTors: If Dems want honest elections, why did a Soros-backed group hire criminals to get out the vote?
06/21/04: This Time, Get It Right: Instead of "lawyering up," both parties should be working to prevent another Florida
06/14/04: Don't Pardon Their French: "Good government" Californians embrace the system that produced David Duke
06/07/04: Freedom's Team: How Reagan, Thatcher and John Paul II won the Cold War
05/25/04: Don't Touch That Dial? Radio hosts worry about the FCC's indecency regulations. What about political speech?
05/18/04: Anger Management: Dems start to realize that a campaign of hate won't beat President Bush
05/11/04: Will Sen. Kennedy turn out to be a political liability for John Kerry?
05/04/04: Buyer's Remorse: Dems start to worry that Kerry can't win
04/27/04: Arlen Specter's personality helps make him vulnerable in today's primary
04/20/04: Arnold Schwarzenegger thinks making laws should be a part-time job. He's right
03/23/04: Bragging of foreign support doesn't win many votes in America
03/16/04: The Vanishing Center: In both political parties, the defense of moderation is no virtue
03/09/04: A JFK-NBC Ticket? If Kerry wants to make things interesting, he'll consider Tom Brokaw for veep
03/02/04: As Virginia mulls a tax hike, all Americans should guard their wallets
02/24/04: Marriage of Inconvenience: Why same-sex nuptials make Democrats nervous
02/10/04: Republican Rot: Is Congress's GOP majority becoming as corrupt as the Democrats were?
02/03/04: Moore Trouble: Alabama's former chief justice may challenge Bush for the Religious Right vote
01/13/04: Rage of a Relic: Paul O'Neill is angry that the world has passed him by
01/06/04: Unintended Consequence: How Terry McAuliffe and James Carville created Howard Dean
09/03/03: The Anti-Dean: Why Hillary opposes the Democratic front-runner
06/27/03: The California jurist who may replace Justice O'Connor
06/02/03: Clinton the Hoover: Bill, Hillary and the Dems' political vacuum
05/27/03: Nerd Nirvana: Students are to the right of the faculty even at the U of Chicago
05/16/03: GOPers gain in the land of Humphrey and Mondale
04/28/03: With the war won, it's time for Bush to master the Senate
04/04/03: Is "diversity" on campus even a goal worth pursuing?
03/05/03: Sunday morning with the BBC
02/28/03: Shut Up, They Explained: If you can censor this, thank a teacher
02/21/03: Unmitigated Gaul: Saddam isn't the only dictator with whom Jacques Chirac is cozy
02/18/03: Growing number of black officials breaking ranks by calling for a more honest approach to race relations
01/31/03: Half and Half: Republicans have achieved parity among American voters
11/11/02: Sobering Thoughts: The GOP's cup runneth over? No, it's half empty
10/31/02: Blue Gray: California's governor answers a Nobel Prize winner with obscenities
10/14/02: Bad Hair Day: Did Montana Dems exploit antigay prejudice?
10/11/02: The kill-everything senate
09/30/02: Schroeder did what it took to win--but at what cost to Germany?
08/22/02: Buh-Bye Bob, So Long Cynthia : No amount of shouting could've saved Barr or McKinney
07/29/02: GOP: Get Over Panic --- Dems are vulnerable on corporate scandals, too
07/17/02: Not Just an Average Joe: A black GOPer may give Rep. Eliot Engel a run for his money
07/15/02: The McCain Mutiny-II
07/01/02: Opening the Schoolhouse Door: The politicians can't stop school choice now
06/20/02: The Body' Bows Out --- American politics will be duller without Jesse Ventura
06/06/02: It's time for President Bush to stand up to California's senators
05/16/02: A Court Intrigue: Procedural funny business in a racial-preference case
05/14/02: Thin moral ice: New revelations from a skater's Stasi files recall an oppressive era
05/09/02: Newark, Zimbabwe!?
05/02/02: Will Terror Leave Us No Choice? Teachers unions try to use Sept. 11 as an excuse for bad schools
04/23/02: The New Nixon? Al Gore plots his comeback
04/16/02: 'I, Uh, I Have No Comment': A union plays dirty in opposing an antitax initiative
03/31/02: Don't Just Do Something, Stand There!: Filibusters can help the Senate GOP get things done
03/14/02: Red-Light District: It's time to draw the line on gerrymandering
02/21/02: Slippery Slope: Can Dick Riordan beat California's Democratic governor?
02/14/02: Reform School: The Shays-Meehan incumbency protection act
02/07/02: Arizona Highway Robbery: Politicians make a grab for campaign cash
01/31/02: Disfranchise Lassie: Even dogs can register to vote. We need election reform with teeth
01/17/02: Dr. King's Greedy Relations: Cashing in on a national hero's legacy
01/10/02: Oil of Vitriol
01/04/02: The little engine that couldn't--and the senators who don't want it to
12/24/01: E-mail and low-cost computers could be conduits for a learning revolution
12/13/01: How Gore could have really won
12/07/01: Let our students keep their cell phones
12/04/01: Why the White House gave the RNC chairman the boot
11/12/01: A Winsome Politician: She won an election in a majority-black district--and she's a Republican
11/01/01: Bush Avoids Politics at His Peril
10/30/01: Cocked Pit: Armed pilots would mean polite skies
10/24/01: Chicken Pox: Hardly anyone has anthrax, but almost everyone has anthrax anxiety
10/11/01: Will Rush Hear Again? New technology may make it possible
10/04/01: Three Kinds of pols
08/24/01: Lauch Out: Who'll replace Jesse Helms?
08/08/01: Tome Alone: Clinton's book will probably end up on the remainder table
08/03/01: Of grubbing and grabbing: Corporation$ and local government$ perfect "public use"
07/31/01: Affairs of State: The Condit case isn't just about adultery. It's about public trust and national security
07/14/01: The First Amendment survives, and everyone has someone to blame for the failure of campaign reform
07/12/01: He's Still Bread: Despite what you've heard, Gary Condit isn't toast --- yet
07/12/01: Passing Lane: Left-wing attacks help boost John Stossel's and Brit Hume's audiences
06/25/01: Man vs. Machine: New Jersey's GOP establishment is doing everything it can to stop Bret Schundler
06/15/01: A Schundler Surprise? Don't count out "the Jack Kemp of New Jersey"
06/06/01: Memo to conservatives: Ignore McCain and maybe he'll go away
05/29/01: Integrity in Politics? Hardly. Jim Jeffords is no Wayne Morse
05/22/01: Davis' answer to California's energy crisis? Hire a couple of Clinton-Gore hatchet men
05/07/01: Prematurely declaring a winner wasn't the networks' worst sin in Florida
04/23/01: How to fix the electoral process --- REALLY!
04/11/01: A conservative hero may mount a California comeback
03/30/01: Can the GOP capture the nation's most closely balanced district?
03/09/01: Terminated
03/06/01: Leave well enough alone
02/22/01: Forgetting our heroes
02/15/01: In 1978 Clinton got a close look at the dangers of selling forgiveness
02/12/01: Clinton owes the country an explanation --- and an appology
02/06/01: How Ronald Reagan changed America
01/16/01: Why block Ashcroft? To demoralize the GOP's most loyal voters
01/15/01: Remembering John Schmitz, a cheerful extremist
12/29/00: Why are all Dems libs pickin' on me?
Dubya's 48% mandate is different than Ford's
12/13/00: Gore would have lost any recount that passed constitutional muster
11/13/00: The People Have Spoken: Will Gore listen?
10/25/00: She's really a Dodger
09/28/00: Locking up domestic oil?
09/25/00: Hillary gives new meaning to a "woman with a past"
09/21/00: Ignore the Polls. The Campaign Isn't Over Yet

©2001, John H. Fund