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BREAKING NEWS ~ Washington Supreme Court rejects Democratic ballot bid

[JURIST] KGW-TV is reporting that the Washington state Supreme Court has rejected a bid by state Democrats (read the complaint here [PDF]) to include previously rejected absentee and provisional ballots in the hand recount of votes in the WA state governor's race.

1:13 PM ET - In a brief opinion authored by Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, the WA Supreme Court said:

This court is mindful that it is the policy of the State of Washington “to encourage every eligible person to register to vote and to participate fully in all elections.” RCW 29A.04.205. “No right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws under which, as good citizens, we must live. Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is undermined.” Wesberry v. Sanders, 376 U.S. 1, 17, 84 S.Ct. 526, 11 L. Ed. 2d 481 (1964). Nonetheless, we must reject petitioners’ arguments.

In this context, a “ballot” is a physical or electronic record of the choices of an individual voter, or the physical document on which the voter’s choices are to be recorded. RCW 29A.04.008(1)(c),(d). “‘Recount’ means the process of retabulating ballots and producing amended election returns….” RCW 29A.04.139 (emphasis added). The procedure for recounts is set forth in RCW 29A.64.041, and starts with the county canvassing board opening “the sealed containers containing the ballots to be recounted.” See RCW 29A.60.110. Thus, under Washington’s statutory scheme, ballots are to be “retabulated” only if they have been previously counted or tallied, subject to the provisions of RCW 29A.60.210.

It follows that this court cannot order the Secretary to establish standards for the recanvassing of ballots previously rejected in this election. And petitioners’ call for uniform signature-checking standards (seemingly beyond the statutory requirement that the signature on an absentee ballot be the same as the signature in voter registration files) is beyond the relief that can be afforded in this action.
The full text of the opinion is now online here. AP has more. View the latest results in the manual recount here.

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