OLYMPIA, Wash. – Despite Republicans' demands for a new statewide vote and their new radio advertising campaign, the Democratic leaders who control the state Legislature say the governor's election is over.
"We are following the rules and we need to live by those rules, and not just call for a do-over because we don't like the results," Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown said Tuesday.
Democrats, who hold a majority in the state House and Senate, stood firmly behind Gov.-elect Christine Gregoire (search), who beat Republican Dino Rossi (search) by 129 votes after a hand recount of 2.9 million ballots cast. Rossi, who won the first count and a machine recount, has not conceded and may contest the election in court.
A top Republican, House Minority Leader Bruce Chandler, said the Legislature should delay ratifying the results of the election until more questions are answered. He disagreed with Brown's contention that the recount process followed the rules.
"The people of this state clearly have lost confidence in the election process," Chandler said Tuesday. "The truth of the matter is, we don't know who won this election and we never will." He and Brown spoke at The Associated Press Legislative Preview on Tuesday.
Also Tuesday, radio stations began running ads paid for by the state Republican Party, declaring the governor's election a "certified mess" and urging people to petition the Legislature for a new election.
More fuel for GOP concerns was added Wednesday with a Seattle Times report that some provisional voters improperly inserted their ballots into vote counting machines at polling places in King County (search). The ballots, from people who went to the wrong precinct or whose registrations were in question, were supposed to be set aside and counted only if the person's identity and voting status were verified.
A review of polling place records should indicate the extent of the problem, but it may be impossible to determine exactly how many provisional ballots were fed into the tabulating machines on Election Day, county Elections Superintendent Bill Huennekens said.
The new Republican ad campaign focuses on a Washington state Marine wounded in Iraq, Tyler Farmer, who didn't get his ballot until Nov. 3, the day after Election Day. Republicans argue many military voters were disenfranchised.
The issue drew about 100 people who held signs and chanted "revote" Tuesday night outside a restaurant popular with soldiers near Fort Lewis.
But Secretary of State Sam Reed, also a Republican, said there's no evidence of any systemic problems with the military vote. Counties mailed absentee ballots to registered military voters by early October, Reed said.
Gregoire's inauguration is scheduled for Jan. 12.
"The vote changed, I won, and now suddenly there's something wrong," Gregoire said Tuesday. "I won by 129. It's time for us to put it behind us and move on."