King County should fix it for Gregoire

With only one county left to report, from 39, the Democrat position in the Washington State Governor election seems unassailable. King County, which polls 3 to 2 for the Democrats against the Republicans is expected to find an extra 500 votes or more. In the previous re-count, 593 extra votes for the Democrat candidate Christine Gregoire were counted, compared with 348 for Dino Rossi, her Republican opponent. Because the result currently stands at at Rossi lead of 42, plus eight net votes added from the other 38 counties of Washington State, it would now be extraordinary if the King County manual recount does not produce a Democrat win, despite Gregoire being behind in both statewide tallies so far.

The conspiracy theorists don't have far to look for evidence that something odd happened between November 2 and December 23 2004. Consider the discrepencies between the standards of different counties. Not one county managed to achieve the same score in the original count, the machine recount and the hand recount. Cowlitz county managed to reduce the scores of both major parties in both recounts, whilst finding one extra Libertarian vote. Given that provisional ballots were being checked for possible inclusion this pattern is completely at odds with the rest of Washington state. Wahkiakum county produced the only figure that makes sense. There the machine recount added one vote to Rossi and the hand recount found one less, suggesting that the original count was good. It is obvious that the standards are either inconsistent from one county to another, or fraud is taking place under the noses of election officials. Reports of several hundred votes "forgotten" in King County suggest either a degree of open fraud that beggars belief, or a degree of incompetence that is simply awesome. Get FedEx in to run the polling stations and handle the delivery of ballot boxes!

For Rossi, defeat in these circumstances seems likely to propel him into a Senatorial campaign in two years time, a campaign he might well win.


Back in the Ukraine

According to Michael Fumento on TechCentral Station, Viktor Yushenko's poison was not as deadly as anti-chemicals activists have claimed. Bizarrely, Mr Yushenko may owe his life to the fact that his would-be murderers believed environmentalist propaganda!

"We don't know of a single person who has ever died of acute dioxin poisoning," says Robert Golden, president of the Maryland-based consulting firm ToxLogic.

It's also terribly rude to say dioxin is not a human carcinogen. The International Agency for Research on Cancer insists it is, and the EPA desperately wants to call it one but its own review panels keep getting in the way.

Yet in addition to the Ranch Hands, we have cancer data from throughout the world concerning workers or townsfolk exposed to dioxin through accidental releases. No type of cancer shows up consistently. As a paper in last December's Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology concluded, "The long-term accumulation of negative, weak, and inconsistent findings suggests that [dioxin] eventually will be recognized as not carcinogenic for humans."

The Ukrainian presidential election second round re-run will take place on December 26.


Spinning coin...

The Washington State gubernatorial election saga enters its eighth week and there is still no clear outcome. Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed believes he will be able to declare a result by December 23.

On the one hand, Democrats are cheered by news that 561 ballots that were "mistakenly rejected" not once but twice, should be included in the King County total. As King County (including Seattle) accounts for over 35% of the Democrat score and the Democrats there outnumber Republicans by almost 3 to 2, such a change would appear to spell doom for Dino Rossi's chances of holding his lead.

In the original count Rossi beat Christine Gregoire by 261 votes. After a machine recount which also saw many provisional ballots added to the toal, the Republican candidate's lead was cut to a mere 42 out of more than 2.8 million votes cast.

On the other hand my analysis of the corrections occuring in counties that have reported for the second and manual recount suggests that the picture is less rosy for Gregoire.

Across the whole State the average increase in the Democratic vote from the original to the first (machine) recount was 33.1 votes per county. For the 33 counties that have reported at the time of writing, the figure was 6.1 votes per county. So far in the second (hand) recount the number has incread to 6.1 per county, suggesting that the overall score could be 51.8 per county, or 1820 votes across Washington State.

However, the equivalent calculations for the Republican candidate suggest that his vote could increase by 2508 votes across the state, giving Rossi a majority in the region of 700 votes. The Libertarian candidate Ruth Bennett could add about 95 votes to an already impressive total of more than 63,000. Bennett scored more than five times the number of votes gained by Michael Badnarik (the Libertarian presidential candidate) in the State of Washington.

All this of course depends on the notion that the errors and challenges to disputed votes break evenly in the six remaining counties.

The coin is still spinning...

UPDATE: With results published for a 34th county (Skagit), a total of 24 ballots fewer have been counted. This marginally affects the calculations and does not alter the prognosis I have made above. It's still increadibly tight, but Rossi has picked up a thin advantage, with King county to come.