Rossi/Gregoire: Stage Set For Election Challenge Hearing

May 2, 2005
By KOMO Staff & News Services

WENATCHEE, WA- The scene is now set for a court showdown to determine who is the legitimately elected governor of Washington State.

Republicans hope they can prove so many felons, dead people and other unauthorized voters cast ballots in the Nov. 2 election that Dino Rossi was the winner and the election should be set aside.

But Judge John Bridges of the Chelan County Superior Court set a high standard for the Republicans to meet. He said there must be clear and convincing proof that the errors would have resulted in Rossi being elected governor, even when offsetting errors benefiting Christine Gregoire are considered.

Bridges warned Republicans that it is not enough to show vote totals of contested ballots far in excess of the 129-vote margin. Bridges says he needs more proof that Republicans have submitted so far that felons voted in the last election.

He told attorneys for Rossi that it is not enough to show they are felons; that they voted and that court records did not indicate that their rights had been restored. The judge said Republicans will have to show that the felons had not completed sentence requirements and had their rights restored in one of five ways provided under state law.

Republicans tell KOMO 4 News they believe they can meet the judge's high standards and indicated they were pleased with the judge's ruling that they can bring in experts who can predict for whom felons likely voted.

Republicans claim they've identified more than 1,000 illegal votes - mostly felons, but also unverified provisional ballots and a few dead voters. Using the proportional analysis method, they want the court to subtract illegal votes from both candidates' totals according to precinct voting patterns. For example, if 10 illegal votes came from a precinct that voted 60 percent for Gregoire and 40 percent for Rossi, the Republicans would deduct six votes from Gregoire and four from Rossi. Most of the illegal votes Republicans have identified come from King County, which went 58 percent for Gregoire.

Democrats say the method amounts to statistical guessing. At the same time, they've been collecting evidence of illegal votes in Rossi-leaning counties, and plan to use the same "proportional analysis as evidence in court of illegal Rossi votes.

In arguments before Bridges at Monday's pretrial hearing, David Burman, an attorney for the Democrats, compared proportional analysis to flipping a coin.

To overturn an election, "They have to be certain," he said. "Mathematical chances are not good enough."

But GOP attorney Mark Braden said that without proportional analysis both sides would have to bring thousands of witnesses into the courtroom, to ask how they voted on a secret ballot. That, he said, "is a nonsensical interpretation of Washington law."

The judge indicated he would accept expert testimony, but warned may or may not consider that testimony in reaching an eventual decision when the case is heard May 23.

Paul Berendt, the head of the State Democratic Party, said he expects Democrats will submit the names of almost as many felons who may have voted in counties that voted for Rossi. In addition, Democrats got permission from the court to introduce evidence about votes that appear to be legitimate but were not processed in King County.

Berendt predicted when all of the missing and illegal votes are considered, Christine Gregoire will still be governor of Washington and the party will have proved she won.

But Mary Lane, spokeswoman for Dino Rossi, gave identical claims with the exception that she predicted that Rossi will win.

The trial itself is expected to last about two weeks.

Both sides have acknowledged that whatever happens in Chelan County, the case will ultimately be decided by the state Supreme Court. Bridges' rulings, however, lay critical ground rules for the case.


Big Victory for Rossi Team: Judge will allow Republicans to present “proportional analysis”



Today Chelan County Superior Court Judge John Bridges handed the Rossi legal team a huge win by allowing Republicans to present “proportional analysis” evidence in the governor’s election contest.  Although Judge Bridges said he would not necessarily be convinced by statistical analysis, the pre-trial hearing ruling is a major setback for Democrats, who had hoped the court would block its admittance.


As anticipated by Republican lawyers Judge Bridges ruled on several points that were favored by the Democrats.  Republicans will have to present "clear and convincing" evidence that a felon voted, which was a higher standard than the party had wanted.  Despite this, the Rossi legal team is prepared to meet the standards set by the judge. 


The trial date for the governor’s election contest is slated for May 23rd and is expected to take two weeks.



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