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What's Wrong With WA?

In 2004, Washington State Republicans screamed bloody murder when Attorney General Christine Gregoire won election to the governor's mansion by a margin of barely more than 100 votes. In recent years, several Washington State elections departments have lost absentee ballots, been woefully slow in reporting results and generally made a mess of the system.

This year, it is the state Republican Party that is coming under fire for mishandling results from Washington's Saturday caucuses. With 87% of precincts reporting, John McCain held a narrow lead of about 1.7% over Mike Huckabee, and Huckabee's camp was understandably unhappy when GOP chairman Luke Esser called the race for the Arizonan.

In a statement, Huckabee campaign chairman Ed Rollins, a veteran political operative, said it was a move he hadn't seen in four decades in politics. "It would be a disservice to every voter in Washington state to not pursue a full accounting of all votes cast," Rollins said. "That is an outrage."

The Huckabee campaign has dispatched lawyers to the state to sort the mess out, the second time in four years attorneys have argued over Washington's voting process. The Huckabee team is well aware of that fact: "Washington Republicans know, from bitter experience in the 2004 gubernatorial election, the terrible results that can come from bad ballot counting," the campaign said in a statement, according to the Seattle Times.

Meanwhile, state Republicans will allocate half their delegates to the national convention based on next Tuesday's primary, with which there have also been complications. The Associated Press writes thousands of ballots are being thrown out because voters aren't signing an oath declaring themselves Democrats or Republicans. In King County, the state's largest and home to Seattle, more than one in five ballots have been thrown out, elections officials said.

Though Politics Nation is a proud Evergreen Stater, it looks like Washington is getting better at botching elections than Florida is. The Sunshine State made a mess, regardless of final results, of the 2000 presidential contest as well as a 2006 congressional race -- though Rep. Vern Buchanan was found to have won in the end, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office released last week, it still took fifteen months to make that determination. The Rainy State took a lawsuit to decide the governor's race and now might have screwed up the Republican caucuses.

If the state has one more misstep, Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury might begin to get ideas about annexing Washington's elections department. He might have to: After the retirement of longtime Secretary of State Ralph Munro in 2000, no one in Washington can seem to get it right.