Thursday, March 9, 2006 · Last updated 5:20 p.m. PT
Court dismisses leftover challenges from governor's race
By CURT WOODWARD
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The state Supreme Court, tidying up legal remnants of Washington's twisted 2004 governor's race, on Thursday dismissed four challenges to Gov. Chris Gregoire's narrow election victory.
In a 7-2 decision, justices ruled that three election challenges filed by individual voters did not have legal merit to proceed under state law. The fourth case, which had better legal footing, was dismissed because it mirrored the state Republican Party's failed court case against the election.
Four Washingtonians filed the cases in January 2005, around the time Gregoire was declared the winner - by 129 votes - of a third statewide ballot count.
Her Republican opponent in the race, Dino Rossi, and the state GOP challenged the outcome in court.
Their case convinced Chelan County Superior Court Judge John Bridges of Wenatchee that 1,678 illegal votes were cast in the election, out of 2.9 million. But Bridges said there wasn't evidence of how those illegal voters marked their ballots.
Rossi declined to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
In Thursday's ruling, the court dismissed a separate challenge from Suzanne D. Karr of Snohomish County as too closely mirroring the settled GOP case.
A key part of the majority's decision, written by Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, held that Karr effectively was the same party as those who launched the GOP case, officially known as Borders v. King County
"While Karr was not a participant in the Borders case, she is acting in the same capacity, and has the same legal interest, as the participants in that case," Chief Justice Gerry Alexander wrote for the majority.
Dissenting justices objected to the decision, saying Karr was a separate party and had a slightly different legal argument.
"This ruling strikes at the heart of the fundamental right of every person to access the courts," wrote Justice Richard Sanders, joined in dissent by Justice James Johnson.
The cases are election contests filed by Arthur Coday, Jr., docket no. 76480-8; Michael J. Goodall, no. 76541-3; Suzanne D. Karr, no. 76500-6; Daniel P. Stevens, no. 76479-4.
On the Net:
Supreme Court of Washington: http://www.courts.wa.gov