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Republican lawsuit in Washington's disputed gubernatorial race begins

[JURIST] Pre-trial motions in a lawsuit brought by Washington Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi [official website] contesting the 129-vote victory of Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire [official website] in a hand recount begin Thursday. The case, which gets under way in heavily Republican Chelan County, will most likely reach the state Supreme Court, which has ruled on election-related issues several times already. The Rossi campaign and others are suing Secretary of State Sam Reed [official website], all 39 counties and their auditors or other top election officials, state House Speaker Frank Chopp, and Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen in his role as president of the state Senate. In the first statewide count, Rossi beat Gregoire by 261 votes which shrank to 42 votes after a machine recount. A hand recount of 2.9 million ballots cast made Gregoire the winner. Republicans argue that errors by election workers' errors, especially in the Democratic stronghold of King County [official website], allowed potentially thousands of illegal votes which makes it impossible to determine a winner. The trial court judge will hear motions today from several counties attempting to drop out of the litigation and a Rossi campaign motion [text, PDF] to speed up the pre-trial discovery process. The state Democratic Party, which intervened in the case, would like to delay discovery until the court considers the underlying constitutional issues. The Democrats also objected to a Republican attempt to subpoena a Washington State Patrol's criminal history records database, which the Republicans hope to use to show many convicted felons may have voted illegally November 2. Read Rossi's petition for a re-vote [PDF]. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has local coverage.

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