Dems Rest Case in Wash. Governor Race Trial

Democrats defending the disputed 2004 governor's election rested their case Friday in a trial challenging the results of a race won by just 129 votes.

Democratic attorneys submitted depositions and documents from counties across the state to support their claims that election errors happened everywhere. Their exhibits included a thank-you card from President Bush to an ex-convict, a staunch Republican who allegedly voted illegally in the 2004 election — intended to show that not all felons vote Democrat.

GOP attorneys planned to question rebuttal witnesses later Friday, and then both sides planned to make their closing arguments.

Republicans challenging Gov. Christine Gregoire's (search) victory have focused on errors in the Democratic stronghold of King County (search), the state's most populous.

They contend the errors indicate fraud and want the election overturned to allow a new contest between Gregoire and Republican candidate Dino Rossi (search).

Chelan County Superior Court Judge John Bridges said Thursday he plans to rule Monday on whether to nullify the election. Both sides say they will appeal to the state Supreme Court if they lose.

After listening to hours of expert testimony on Thursday from both sides about who really won, even the judge was puzzled.

"Am I wrong in thinking if we have similar numbers we should have similar results?" Bridges asked Republican expert Anthony Gill, a University of Washington political science professor.

Gill had earlier shown the judge that if he deducted illegal votes from both candidates according to precinct voting patterns, Rossi would have won by 129 votes — instead of Gregoire winning by 129 votes.

But an expert witness for the Democrats said Gregoire would still have won after subtracting illegal votes.

Gregoire, who was the state's attorney general at the time of the election last fall, lost the first count and a machine recount, then won a final, hand recount. It was the slimmest winning margin, by percentage, in any gubernatorial election in U.S. history. Rossi and the state Republican Party sued to overturn the election and want a new election this fall.