O L Y M P I A, Wash., Nov. 27, 2000 -- Washington State will recount its ballotsin the U.S. Senate race, but state officials don’t expect aFlorida-style fiasco.
Washington Secretary of State Ralph Munro says it should beorderly and dull.
“We don’t have hanging chad or anything. That was taken care ofbefore the count,” he said.
“It’s not very exciting. It’s kind of like watching grassgrow.”
Munro ordered a recount today in the Senate race and one otherstatewide race with a margin of less than one-half percent, asrequired by state law.
Slim Lead for Cantwell
In the U.S. Senate race, Maria Cantwell, 42, a high-techmillionaire and Democrat, leads incumbent Republican Slade Gortonby 1,953 votes, or .08 percent.
Washington’s recount should not spark debates about dimpledballots and voters’ intentions, Munro emphasized. No new ballotswill be added during the recount and none will be thrown out —they’ll just be run through the machines again.
The recount should take about a week, said state ElectionsDirector Gary McIntosh, although smaller counties may finish theirrecounts in a day. King and Pierce counties planned to start theirrecounts today, with the other counties starting later in theweek.
County canvassing boards will administer the recount. Observersfrom both parties, the candidates and the public are allowed towatch.
Only 16 of Washington’s 39 counties use punchcard ballots. Therest use “optical scan” ballots in which voters mark circles witha pencil or pen to register their choices.
U.S. Senate Could Be Split
A win for Cantwell would put the U.S. Senate in a 50-50 tie, itsfirst even split in a century. Under a George W. Bush presidency,his running mate, Dick Cheney, would break ties in the Senate. IfAl Gore wins and Sen. Joe Lieberman becomes vice president,Connecticut Gov. John Rowland would appoint a Republican to fillthe vacated seat, leaving the GOP with a 51-49 majority.
Another recount is due in the secretary of state race, whereRepublican Sam Reed holds a .46 percent lead over Democrat DonBonker. Munro is retiring this year after 20 years in office.
Two state House races in the 47th District south of Seattlehinge on less than .3 percent of the vote, and face recounts byKing County elections officials. Republican Jack Cairnes leadsDemocrat Debbie Jacobson, while Democrat Geoff Simpson is ahead ofRepublican Phil Fortunato. King County will handle those recounts.
Past recounts in Washington tend to affirm the initial tallies.
The most recent mandatory recount was in 1996, in the 3rdCongressional District. Republican Linda Smith initially ledDemocrat Brian Baird by 890 votes. The recount gave both a few morevotes, and Smith’s margin of victory was 887.
Gorton is no stranger to the process. The last time Washingtonhad a recount for a statewide office was 1968, when Gorton defeatedDemocrat John McCutcheon by 5,368 votes for attorney general.
The recounts must be finished by Dec. 7, the date by which statelaw says the secretary of state must certify the election results.
Candidates and parties can call for additional recounts,although state law prohibits counting the ballots more than twice.Whoever requests the recount has to pay for it, at 5 cents aballot, but if the recount reverses the results they don’t have topay.