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May 26, 2005
WA Governor's Race: Day 3 from the Chairman
Filed in: Current Affairs, Politics, WA Governor's Race

WA GOP Chairman Chris Vance issued this statement this morning regaring day 3 of the election contest trial:

Trial Update - May 26, 2005

Day Three:  Republicans Build Case Despite Democrat Objections

Wednesday was an eventful and successful day in the election contest trial.  The Republicans called Nicole Way, supervisor of absentee ballot processing for King County, as the day's first witness.  She testified about her concerns that King County's computer system could not track absentee ballots sent or received, and the discussions she had with Garth Fell and Bill Huennekens about her concerns. The Republican lawyers showed her some absentee ballot batch slips and the "accountability" spreadsheet King County prepared that summarized all of the batch slips -- and the many discrepancies and errors involved in them -- and had her explain them to the court.  When the Republicans offered the accountability spreadsheet as evidence, the Democrats objected vigorously.  This was the latest instance of their strategy to stop evidence about the election from being heard -- a trend that continued throughout the day (the judge agreed with the Republicans and accepted the spreadsheet into evidence).  Ms. Way confirmed (yet again) that the infamous Mail Ballot Report did not do what the law requires, which is to verify that the number of absentee ballots received was the same as the total of the number counted plus the number rejected.  The number received shown on the report was merely the sum of the numbers counted and rejected, not an independent check on them.

The Democrats cross-examined Ms. Way, trying to establish that ballots were secure and that any fraud or misconduct would have been detected.  They also asked if the mail ballot report had always been prepared this way.  She said it had not (and later expanded that by saying that in the past the computer system produced a report showing the number issued and the number credited, which could be compared to the report of the number tabulated and the daily log of the number sent and received).  The Democrats also asked her questions about the no signature on file ("Larry Phillips") ballots.  When she admitted to a Republican lawyer that one reason voter records might not have a signature is that the voter did not sign their application, the lawyer for the Secretary of State asked whether unsigned applications would be processed (implying they would not).  Ms. Way said she had seen actual original copies of registration applications that were processed even though they were not signed.

After Ms. Way's (long) testimony, the Republicans called Clark Bensen.  Mr. Bensen testified about his collection of data relating to the 2004 election and about two aspects of the data he reviewed -- that there were 875 more absentee ballots counted than absentee voters credited in King County, and that most of the precincts with the largest surplus of ballots were won by Christine Gregoire, while most of the precincts with the largest surplus of credits were won by Dino Rossi.  We believe this non-random pattern of discrepancies is strong evidence that fraud may have occurred. The Democrats objected strenuously at every stage of this questioning, seeking to bar Mr. Bensen from testifying, to bar him from talking about the 875 vote absentee discrepancy, to bar him from talking about the precincts with the largest differences, and to bar him from using visual aids to explain the data he testified about to the court.  The Democrats also complained that they had not been advised of Mr. Bensen's work on voter crediting, notwithstanding that they questioned him about it during his deposition.  The lawyer for the Secretary of State objected that voter crediting information could not be used to prove anything about who voted or how many people voted.

Today, the Democrats will cross-examine Mr. Bensen.  There will then be a "Frye hearing" where the Democrats will seek to prevent testimony by the Republicans' experts.  Assuming the judge agrees to hear the testimony, it will follow the hearing.  Depending on the timing of the testimony (and how many more objections the Democrats make), the Republicans expect to complete their case Thursday afternoon or Friday morning.

It's worth discussing a little about what is going on here. It continues to appear that the Democrat legal strategists have been believing the LSMs and their own press clippings since the contest was announced - that the legal case is essentially just about the tabulation of illegal votes and argument about who would have received more or less votes on that basis. Neither the press nor the Democrats have been prepared to hear specific allegations of fraud. The Republicans, for their part, did not do any particular telegraphing about it and now the Democrats are left just attempting to keep the evidence that has been uncovered from being presented.

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