OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The secretary of state ordered an unprecedented statewide hand recount yesterday in the closest gubernatorial race in state history.
The action by Secretary of State Sam Reed was a formality: Under Washington law, anyone can get a recount as long as they pay for it. The Democratic Party is putting up more than $700,000 to fund the recount.
The race between Republican Dino Rossi and Democrat Christine Gregoire ended in a virtual dead heat in the first two counts. Rossi led by more than 200 votes after the initial count, triggering a machine recount.
Rossi then emerged with a 42-vote lead out of 2.9 million ballots cast following the recount.
The Democrats then ordered the manual recount and also went to the state Supreme Court to demand that some previously disqualified ballots be counted this time. The Supreme Court is expected to take up the case Thursday.
Reed's simple announcement to the 39 counties, signed in his office without fanfare, directs election departments to get started tomorrow or Thursday. The count will take until Christmas week in some counties, especially King County, where a third of the voters live.
Three-person teams will do the work, with two people counting the ballots and one recording the votes. Each three-person team will consist of one Democrat, one Republican, and one county elections worker.