The election director in Seattle's King County (search) said Monday that hundreds of absentee ballots were mistakenly rejected in the heavily Democratic stronghold — enough to swing the close governor's race to Democrat Christine Gregoire (search).

A statewide hand recount is under way across Washington state after Republican Dino Rossi (search) came out ahead of Gregoire by just 42 votes out of 2.9 million cast.

King County Elections Director Dean Logan said he will ask the county Canvass Board on Wednesday to amend the results of the Nov. 2 election (search) in his county. Agreement is likely; Logan has a seat on the three-person board, and one of the other members is a Democrat.

Logan said election workers mistakenly rejected 561 absentee ballots because they thought signatures on the ballots did not match original voter registration records.

However, he said that the signatures simply were not on file in the county's computerized voter registration system and that original registration records should have been checked.

"We need to correct the error and count those votes," Logan said in a statement.

One of the rejected ballots belonged to King County Council Chairman Larry Phillips, The Seattle Times reported.

"I was under the absolute impression not only I voted, but followed the instructions correctly," Phillips said. "If it can happen to the King County Council chairman, it can happen to anyone else."