Rich Tucker

Students of history, unite. If you?re interested in understanding what might have happened in Florida in 2000, you need only look at Washington today.

That?s the state of Washington, where on June 6 a judge officially declared Democrat Christine Gregoire should remain as governor. There have been questions since Election Day, when the initial count showed Gregoire had lost to Republican Dino Rossi by 261 votes.

The race was so close that a machine recount was needed, and it too declared Rossi the winner by a mere 42 votes. Finally, in the spirit of ?counting every vote,? the state held a hand recount of all the ballots, and the ?correct? outcome was obtained: Democrat Gregoire was declared the winner by 129 votes.

Now, some of us would say the score there was 2-1 -- Rossi had won two counts and Gregoire had won only one. If he didn?t get to take office, he should at least have received another recount, if not a new vote. Nope. Once the Democrat pulled ahead, Washingtonians were told it was time to move on. ?The election is over,? Gregoire announced in December. ?I hope we can move forward, unite our state and address the problems our state is facing.?

One problem the state faced, and presumably will face again, is voter fraud. Even in dismissing Rossi?s lawsuit, the judge admitted there were at least 1,678 illegal ballots cast -- more than enough to flip the outcome in either direction. But, ?Unless an election is clearly invalid, when the people have spoken their verdict should not be disturbed by the courts,? Superior Court Judge John Bridges wrote.

That ignores that the issue here wasn?t whether or not the people had spoken -- they had. What?s in dispute is what they said, and there?s certainly reason to believe that a slim majority supported Rossi. But we?ll never know. So, Gregoire says, it?s time to put the past behind us. ?I want the state of Washington to be served by a full-time governor who is not being distracted by anything other than serving the citizens,? she declared.

All this presents an unpleasant parallel to a more famous standoff: Florida 2000.

Al Gore lost the initial count and the recount. So of course he demanded a re-recount -- in four specific counties where he expected to pick up votes. It dragged on for weeks, with both sides filing legal briefs and various judges and courts issuing various rulings -- just as we?ve seen this year in Washington state.

Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for