Joe Kent requests quixotic recount

That’s his right, but it won’t change the election results.

Kent, who had a storied military career but is a rightwing crackpot (details here), lost Washington’s 3rd congressional district race to Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, an auto shop owner, by 2,629 votes (see results here). Percentage-wise, the result was 50.14% to 49.31, a difference of 0.83%, too wide to trigger an automatic recount.

He can get one by paying for it, and his campaign has decided to foot the $48,000 bill (see story here).

They issued a statement saying, “We believe the election workers did their best to ensure a fair election and count the ballots accurately,” which is far more generous than you’d get from Trump or a Kari Lake. They added, “But given the close margin between the two campaigns, technical issues with the signature verifications software, and the obligation we have to our supporters to ensure certainty about the outcome, we believe a second tabulation is in order.”

It’s futile. They’re tilting at windmills. How do I know? History. Experience.

In the 2004 Washington governor’s election, Dino Rossi (R) won the initial count by 261 votes. The machine recount narrowed his lead to 42 votes. The Democrats then paid $730,000 for a hand recount that gave Christine Gregoire (D) a 129-vote lead (see result here). Rossi’s court challenge, which cost $2 million, gave Gregoire another 4 votes and she officially won by 133 votes. She would serve two terms as governor, defeating Rossi again in 2008.

A recount normally adds votes for both candidates by including valid ballots that were initially missed for various reasons. (See details about the 2004 election here.) In that election, with over 2.6 million votes cast, the recounts shifted the final result by 390 votes, of which 262 were essential to win. Kent has to overcome a deficit 10 times that large, on a much smaller base of about 320,000 ballots. That’s much too large a difference to overcome.

A reasonable expectation for his recount is that it will shift the results by 50 votes or so, and not necessarily in his favor.

So why bother? You’d have to ask him. Kent is an election denier, so my guess is he’s looking for something, anything, he can use to impugn the integrity of the election process — and maybe even demand a new election, although the law doesn’t allow that. (In 2004, Rossi’s supporters demanded a “revote,” but they were whistling in the wind. You don’t get a new election because you lost.)

Finding errors might be useful for propaganda purposes, but that’s all. Most elections aren’t perfect, and don’t have to be. There’s always machine glitches, little mistakes, maybe even some misplaced ballots. But if elections had to be perfect to count, we could never fill any offices. As long as the laws and procedures were followed, the results count, despite errors. Keep that in mind if Kent engages in fault-finding after the recount.

It occurs to me this might be part of a larger orchestrated scheme in which the GOP-controlled House will refuse to seat Gluesenkamp Perez, citing irregularities. I don’t think they’ll have the votes to do that, but there might be a House fight over recognizing this election’s outcome, especially as it flipped a GOP seat to the Democrats. These days, not much Republicans do is in good faith, nor are they big believers in democracy. So nothing would really surprise me.

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