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Originally published January 27, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified January 27, 2005 at 9:18 AM

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GOP says it found 300 illegal votes

The state Republican Party said in court papers filed yesterday that it has found 300 illegal votes and more than 400 that can't be verified...

Seattle Times chief political reporter

TUKWILA — The state Republican Party said in court papers filed yesterday that it has found 300 illegal votes and more than 400 that can't be verified in the governor's election.

With Christine Gregoire winning the governor's race by 129 votes, Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance says he now has found far more than enough evidence to persuade a judge to nullify the election and call for a rematch between Gregoire and Republican Dino Rossi.

Lawyers and Republican staffers are continuing to look county by county for votes cast by felons, in the name of dead people or by people who voted more than once, casting second votes either in other counties or other states.

"I expect this number to literally grow every day," Vance said.

Democrats are unconcerned. Their attorneys have argued that Republicans should have challenged improperly registered voters before the election.

Republicans have identified 240 felons who voted illegally. Party workers have been comparing the state's criminal-history database from the State Patrol to a list of voters kept by the Office of the Secretary of State.

The bulk of those are in King County. Vance said there appears to be so many felons who voted in the county that "we will probably never get to the bottom of this list."

He also said the party has identified 44 votes cast under the name of dead people, 10 voters who voted twice in the state and six who voted here and in another state.

Vance claimed the Republicans had found 737 illegal votes, but 437 of those are mishandled provisional ballots. Those ballots were supposed to be kept separate on Election Day but instead were put in counting machines without being verified.

The party has not released the names of the people they say cast illegal votes — such as felons and double voters — but it will have to do that before a trial begins.

Yesterday, Republican lawyers filed their responses to Democratic Party motions to have the case dismissed. Republicans dispute the Democrats' arguments that the Legislature, not the court, should hear the dispute and that the court doesn't have authority to call for a new election.

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Republicans also argue that they don't need to show which candidate got the illegal votes, only that there were enough to cloud the results.

But Democratic Party spokeswoman Kirstin Brost said, "There's no proof that Dino Rossi won the election, and that's what you need to show."

David Postman: 360-943-9882 or dpostman@seattletimes.com

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