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Originally published January 4, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified January 4, 2005 at 12:52 AM

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Rossi backers push for revote

A group of Dino Rossi supporters has started a campaign to press for a new governor's election between Republican Rossi and Christine Gregoire, the Democrat who is set to be sworn...

Seattle Times chief political reporter

A group of Dino Rossi supporters has started a campaign to press for a new governor's election between Republican Rossi and Christine Gregoire, the Democrat who is set to be sworn in Jan. 12.

ReVote Washington is trying to raise money for an advertising campaign, and in four days got 10,000 people to sign an Internet petition calling on the Legislature to hold a runoff election, said Sharon Gilpin, a Seattle public-relations executive who started the effort.

But former Gov. Dan Evans, who lent his name and support to the group, said he doesn't think the Democratic-controlled Legislature convening next week is likely to give Rossi satisfaction.

Instead, Evans said, if Republicans find credible evidence that puts the election outcome in doubt, Rossi needs to contest the election in court.

And he says it should be done by the end of this week to avoid battling Gregoire after she takes office. The Legislature is set to certify the election results on Monday, the first day of the 2005 session. Two days later at noon, Gregoire is to be sworn in. She came out 129 votes ahead after the second recount.

"The further along you get in the process, it gets harder and harder to come back and challenge her, even if the challenge is a rational one," Evans said. "If you have a sitting governor, the courts would lean over backwards not to disrupt anything."

Rossi and the Republican Party are compiling information about possible voting irregularities. His spokeswoman, Mary Lane, said that effort is moving as quickly as possible.

If King County and at least four other counties can't adequately explain their inability to say who cast ballots, it could be a basis for contesting the election, state Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance said yesterday.

"We simply can't have more votes than there are voters," Vance said. "It's common sense. It's the fundamental thing that you do to prevent people from stuffing the ballot box."

At a news conference, Vance said five counties don't know who cast more than 8,000 votes. Vance had claimed a 3,539-vote discrepancy in King County, 1,738 in Snohomish, 1,640 in Pierce, 1,018 in Clark and 484 in Kitsap.

King County elections officials are trying to figure out why their list of Nov. 2 voters fell short of the number of ballots cast. Republican and Democratic observers will be allowed to watch that "reconciliation" process that is scheduled to conclude Friday.

Many counties initially listed fewer voters than votes counted for a variety of reasons, officials said. In some cases, workers overlooked some names in poll books or failed to note in computers that absentee or provisional ballots had been counted.

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Further, voter lists don't include domestic-violence victims in hiding or nonregistered armed-forces members who voted by mail.

But election officials in three of the other counties cited by Vance said he had his facts wrong.

"We hear these allegations, but no one called our county to let us know where these numbers came from," Kitsap County Auditor Karen Flynn said.

Pierce and Kitsap county officials said Republicans apparently based their analysis on post-election registration lists that don't include the names of previously "inactive" voters who voted Nov. 2, or of voters whose names were taken off the registration list after voting.

Delores Gilmore, head of elections for Kitsap County, said her staff found a difference of just 18 votes after finishing a detailed examination of records Nov. 19 — far less than the 484-vote gap claimed by the Republican Party.

Pierce County Auditor Pat McCarthy said her staff found only minor discrepancies after the initial vote count. "I can assure you that we weren't 1,600 votes off," she said. "That would be an error that would cause alarm."

Clark County, like King County, counted more votes than it credited to voters. Election Supervisor Tim Likness said 452 more ballots were counted than voters credited, a discrepancy he attributed to data-entry errors that would be corrected in the coming month.

Snohomish County elections officials couldn't fully account for the discrepancy in their numbers yesterday because a computer problem in their voter-registration system delayed a report on the figures.

The county did count 388 more absentee votes than voters. Election Manager Carolyn Diepenbrock said some people went to the polls, but instead of voting electronically, they used paper, provisional ballots to avoid waiting in line. Those paper ballots were counted along with the absentees, even though the voters signed in at the polls.

The ReVote Washington Web site, revotewa.com, was launched Dec. 31. Gilpin, who worked for Rossi's gubernatorial campaign, and people at her company started the new effort as an online petition, she said, as a way to let lawmakers hear voters' discontent in the record-close governor's race.

Evans, a Republican who served as governor from 1965 to 1977, said he joined the revote effort primarily to remind people that in 1983 he and Republican Gov. John Spellman agreed to a special election for the U.S. Senate, even though Evans had been appointed to the seat after the death of Democratic Sen. Henry Jackson.

"It's just an indicator that if people wanted to do it, it could be done," Evans said.

Seattle Times reporters Keith Ervin, Susan Gilmore, Emily Heffter and Jonathan Martin contributed to this report. David Postman: 360-943-9882 or dpostman@seattletimes.com

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