Tags: Gorton | Loss | Slim | Recount | Next

Gorton Loss Slim, Recount Next

Thursday, 23 November 2000 12:00 AM

It could mean the first time in more than a century the upper house of Congress splits down the middle.

On Wednesday, with all the state's counties reporting, Cantwell led by 1,953 votes – 1,199,260 to Gorton's 1,197,307. That's 48.72 percent to 48.64 percent.

A recounting of the more than 2.5 million ballots – nearly half were cast by mail – will begin early next week.

There is a compelling contrast in Washington with the way Florida has dealt with "hanging chads" on its punch-card ballots.

According to the Washington Post:

David Brine, communications director for the office of secretary of state, said Washington election officials simply pluck all of them off the computer cards.

Unlike Florida, Washington has not been beset by complaints about ballot mischief in the tallying of its presidential ballots.

Another anomaly in Washington is its unique system that allows people to register as permanent absentee voters.

This qualifies them to receive mail ballots automatically before every election without having to give any reason.

As a result, a third of all voters now use the system, and about half the state's vote this year will have been cast by mail.

Washington counts mail ballots so long as they are postmarked by Election Day.

It also has a painstaking screening process – checking the postmark, comparing signatures on the ballot with registration and poll books and scanning the ballot for disqualifying errors.

That is what has caused Washington to be so slow in rendering its initial tally.

Both parties have been watching the vote count in Washington anxiously. If Gorton manages to eke out an edge over Cantwell in the recount, it would restore the GOP's Senate majority.

Republicans currently control the Senate, 54-46. But in the Nov. 7 election, Democrats picked up three seats, reducing the GOP margin to 51-49.

If Gorton's loss is confirmed by the recount, there would be 50-50 split in the Senate.

This hasn't happened since 1881. According to the Senate Historical Office, the Senate was beset then with "substantial organizational and procedural obstacles."

Even with Gorton losing, the GOP would still have at least nominal control of the Senate regardless of which party wins the presidency and vice presidency.

A victory for the Republican ticket would give Dick Cheney as vice president the tie-breaking vote.

A Democratic win would take Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut as vice president out of the Senate and allow his replacement there to be made by Connecticut's Republican governor. That would give the GOP a 51-49 edge.

Gorton, 72, defeated Sen. Warren G. Magnuson in 1980, when he suggested his aging Democratic opponent had been too long on Capitol Hill. Now, two decades later, Gorton has heard the same complaint about him.

Cantwell, 30 years his junior, was elected to the House of Representatives in 1992, then swept out by the GOP tidal wave in 1994.

She returned home and, as an executive of RealNetworks, an Internet start-up company, amassed a fortune – nearly $10 million of which she used to finance her Senate race.

If she survives the recount, Cantwell will swell the ranks of women in the Senate to 13, including two from her own state.

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It could mean the first time in more than a century the upper house of Congress splits down the middle. On Wednesday, with all the state's counties reporting, Cantwell led by 1,953 votes - 1,199,260 to Gorton's 1,197,307. That's 48.72 percent to 48.64 percent. A...
Gorton,Loss,Slim,,Recount,Next
532
2000-00-23
Thursday, 23 November 2000 12:00 AM
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