‘Proportional analysis’ ruling as fair as it gets

Washington state Republicans scored an important victory on Monday when a Chelan County judge approved “proportional analysis” as a way to determine whether illegal or improperly tabulated votes cost Dino Rossi the governorship.

Frankly, even that standard seems too high, but it’s still considerably easier to meet than what the Democrats were asking for.

GOP officials, in the aftermath of the controversial hand count by which Christine Gregoire was elected governor by 129 votes out of 2.9 million cast, canvassed the state looking for evidence of voter fraud or incompetence on the part of elections officials. They allege they found more than 1,000 illegal votes — mostly felons, but also unverified provisional ballots with a few dead voters thrown in for good measure — the majority coming from Democrat-dominated King County.

Consequently, the Republicans asked the judge to use a formula based on voter trends to invalidate the illegal votes. Simply put, since Gregoire carried nearly 60 percent of the legal votes in King County in November, 60 percent of the fraudulent votes in that county should be subtracted from her vote total — and 40 percent subtracted from Rossi.

Democrats, however, argued the votes should be discounted entirely, which would still leave Gregoire with a 129-vote victory. But Chelan County Superior Court Judge John Bridges on Monday sided with the Republicans in favor of the “proportional analysis” method.

Even so, Republicans are very likely still getting less than they deserve. Common sense tells you if there was voter fraud in King County, where Democrats control the process, the votes weren’t invalidated in the same proportion as the legal votes were cast. If Democrats were cheating, they were discounting more Rossi votes than Gregoire votes.

In any case, the point is we aren’t sure — and that should be the only standard the Republicans have to meet in a case like this. If Gregoire had won by 1,500 votes, it would be meaningless to find 1,000 illegal votes because even if they all broke for Rossi it still wouldn’t change the outcome. But her margin was 129 and the number of illegal votes almost 10 times as high.

With so many problems uncovered and so narrow a margin, no one can know with any certainty who won last November. The only sensible solution is to try again next November.

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