The state Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously rejected the Democratic Party's request that previously rejected absentee and provisional ballots (search) be included in the hand recount of the governor's race.

In a brief written opinion, the high court said that under Washington law, "ballots are to be 'retabulated' only if they have been previously counted or tallied" — thus excluding those that had been disqualified by canvassing boards.

Republican Dino Rossi (search) won the Nov. 2 election by 261 vote same day it demanded a hand recount, which began last week.

The lawsuit sought to force county officials to reconsider ballots that had been rejected — most notably in King County (search), a stronghold for current Gov. Christine Gregoire (search). Some weren't counted, for example, because the voter's signature on a mail-in ballot didn't match the signature on file and the voter didn't correct the record by the deadline.

In their ruling, justices wrote, "We are mindful that King County rejected a higher percentage of signatures than did other counties, but the record before us does not establish the reason for that disparity, and it could be for factors other than the standard employed."