SK leaders frustrated by election chaos

The Washington state Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that King County elections officials can count hundreds of previously rejected ballots in the hand recount of the undecided, razor-thin governor’s race.

Although the recount went smoothly in Kitsap County, some Port Orchard residents are left wondering whether a governor will be appointed before the start of the Legislative session in January. More are admittedly becoming increasingly frustrated with what appears to be a botched election, the closest race in state history.

“People are really upset,” said Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel. “One thing I’ve read is that people are frustrated that this has to happen. Clearly the law is written for this very unusual circumstance.”

Indeed, the law is clear on recount rules, but Abel said things get less clear when it comes to counting individual votes, especially when mistakes have been made.

“That’s the piece that’s not as clear,” Abel said. “If we don’t like it, we should change it as a state.”

Republican Coun-ty Commissioner Jan Angel is also concerned about the impression this race is leaving on the public.

“I’m very concerned about the process,” Angel said. “I think it’s broken. I’ve served on numerous canvassing boards and extreme care is taken as to how that is handled, and I don’t understand how things have gotten so messed up.

“The entire governors race lies in King County,” Angel said, adding that one county having all the power is not the way it should be.

“I really feel that we either need to stick to what the rules are and not change them in the middle of the stream or we need to have a new election,” Angel said. “Things have not been done consistently.”

Angel also said that, like other elected officials, if the election is too close to call, the winner and loser should be determined by a flip of the coin.

Still, some residents believe their candidate should fight to win for their constituents. With only King County votes left to report, Democrat Christine Gregoire has gained 562 votes and Republican Dino Rossi has gained 569. Rossi still leads by 49 votes.

“They need to tone down the rhetoric,” said Port Orchard city councilmember and former congresswoman Carolyn Powers. “I don’t think it’s helping either political party.”

Powers, an active Democrat since 1964, said she understands each candidate’s obligation to try everything legally possible to win the elections for their constituents. However, she said the general public is growing weary of the controversy.

But the controversy is far from over. Democrats have projected Gregoire will win by eight votes. Republicans have said that if that is the case, they will seek out Rossi voters whose ballots were rejected because of human errors and fight to have them counted.

“I think that because of the way this whole thing has gone people have lost trust in the system,” said Port Orchard Police Chief Al Townsend. “I would be very supportive of a re-vote.”

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