Votes tallied, but where are voters? GOP charges there are more ballots for governor than people registered in five counties

AARON CORVIN; The News Tribune
Last updated: January 4th, 2005 12:54 PM

The state Republican Party, raising more questions about the outcome of the governor’s race, said Monday that Pierce County is among five counties that certified more ballots than it had voters who participated in the November election.
Specifically, the GOP said, Pierce County certified 1,640 more votes than it had voters, among nearly 8,500 ballots counted statewide that do not have voter matches.

King County’s list of people who voted in the 2004 election is 3,539 names short of the number of ballots it certified. Dino Rossi-supporting counties have similar shortfalls. Snohomish County has 1,738 fewer voters on its list than certified votes; Clark County has 1,018; and Kitsap County has 484.

State GOP Chairman Chris Vance said the discrepancies were “very troubling” and that the results of the governor’s race can’t be deemed valid “until every single vote, and voter, is accounted for.” After losing the first two counts, Democrat Christine Gregoire edged Republican Dino Rossi in the third count by 129 votes out of some 1.9 million.

King County Elections Director Dean Logan said the difference between ballots and voters is larger than he’s comfortable with, but “not alarming.”

“Historically, you never get an exact match,” Logan said. Voters not on the list could include military voters from overseas, he said, or people who signed the wrong line of the sign-in book at their polling places.

Pierce County Auditor Pat McCarthy said Vance might be mistaken.

“I don’t think he understands the data,” she said. “I don’t think he has a full picture of the data that he’s drawing conclusions from.”

McCarthy said she did not have access to the specific voter data requested by the GOP because the person who normally maintains that information was sick and could not make it to work Monday.

However, the GOP might have a list of only active voters, McCarthy said, “and there are inactive voters who have gotten credit for this election,” as allowed by state law.

An inactive voter, for example, is someone who no longer lives in Pierce County but who was still registered to vote there and did so by using a provisional ballot or going to an old polling place, McCarthy said.

Elections officials update voter registration files on an ongoing basis, McCarthy said, so Republicans might not have the list of inactive voters whose votes were counted in November but who have since been removed from registration rolls.

“They may be operating with a partial picture,” she said. “They may only have the regular voters that they’re pulling from.”

Pierce County’s canvassing board certified the overall results of the county’s hand recount in the state’s historic gubernatorial race Dec. 17.

“There was nothing that raised any eyebrows on our side that showed us that we had any egregious discrepancy,” McCarthy said.

In a news release, Vance, the state GOP chairman, demanded answers.

“This is a very serious issue, especially in an election this close,” he said.

If the Republicans “ask for a formal response, I would be happy to provide them with that,” McCarthy said.

She said her staff is still investigating the questions raised by the Republicans.

“I’ve had my staff drop everything they’re doing to look into this,” she said.

Aaron Corvin: 253-552-7058

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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