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Originally published Tuesday, January 25, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Guest columnist

King County voters in good hands

I've been particularly troubled by one recurring comment regarding the gubernatorial recount in King County. It pertains to county Elections...

Special to The Times

I've been particularly troubled by one recurring comment regarding the gubernatorial recount in King County. It pertains to county Elections Director Dean Logan's professionalism and integrity. There also have been suggestions that Logan's decisions are based on partisan politics and are without justification or regard to Washington state law.

As president of the Washington State Association of County Auditors, I assure you nothing could be further from the truth.

All 39 counties conducted the recount process according to the rules currently in place, which are a combination of existing statutes, administrative code, county canvassing board rules and past practices. All 39 counties, working in cooperation with the secretary of state's office, came to agreement on the basic concept of how the ballots would actually be counted in this hand recount, prior to beginning the recount.

With that in mind, it is important to note that Washington, unlike many other states, actually has in place a recount statute with guidelines as to when, where and how such recounts are to be conducted. Again, these rules were in place prior to the hand recount process.

These processes and rules were implemented by county auditors across the state, both Republicans and Democrats, and by county canvassing boards that are comprised of three identified offices: the auditor, the prosecutor and the chair of the county legislative authority.

The key is that while they may all be elected as either Republicans or Democrats, they are part of the canvassing board by virtue of the office they hold and not the party they represent.

This results in the elections process in Washington being one of the most nonpartisan processes in the whole country. This also results in a very professional elections community.

In King County, while the elections officer is not elected, the current occupant of the office, Logan, is one of the leading elections professionals in Washington state and the country. He is a highly regarded member of the Association of County Auditors in Washington and has over the years taken the lead on important election-reform issues in the state. While with the secretary of state's office as director of elections, he played a critical role in the implementation of the Help America Vote Act in Washington.

Logan has my confidence in the actions he has taken, and is continuing to take, to ensure that the recount process in King County is open and transparent to the public at large. He has not shirked his responsibility.

He openly reported problems in the county's process and has stood firm in his commitment to rectify the problems for the sake of the voting public.

I urge that all concerned be clear about separating questions about the process of the recount from the emotions of the politics of the moment. Legitimate questions about the process can and should be raised, but accusations about the motives of the professionals carrying out this process are unproductive and detrimental to our election process.

The public can have faith in the fact that the King County recount process in the governor's race is in Logan's good hands and is being carried out according to the laws and procedures of the state of Washington.

Corky Mattingly is Yakima County auditor and president of the Washington State Association of County Auditors.

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