"There's not much case law on this," argues Frank J. Chmelik. "The responsibility of the canvassing board is to certify that universe of ballots that make up the count. A recount is to re-count the ballots. It doesn't make any sense to expand the universe of ballots. It would frustrate the purpose of the law to allow the recounting of an infinite set of ballots. It may have been in a sealed envelope but it was in a white envelope, not a pink envelope." It is December 19, 1997 and I am in Whatcom County Superior Court, listening to arguments before Judge Michael Moynihan in the matter of Yvonne Goldsmith vs. the Whatcom County Canvassing Board. Yvonne Goldsmith came in one vote ahead of Lloyd Zimmerman in the race for Ferndale City Council on election night. After a mandatory manual recount and the discovery of a lost ballot, she is now one vote behind. Her lawyers have appealed for a second recount, this time by machine. Said machine to be a Documation card reader, one of the models now built by Cardamation of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania — if the appeal is upheld. Right now the lawyers are arguing over whether to include an absentee ballot — discovered in a sealed envelope at the time of the first recount — whose validity depends in part on whether the envelope it turned up in was white or pink.

"It doesn't make any sense for a subsequent computer recount to supersede the manual recount," argues Karen Frakes on behalf of Whatcom County Auditor Sheila Forslof, returning to the issue of human beings vs. machines. "We have no reason to believe the computer recount will be any different."

Chmelik, however, cites chapter and verse of a statute (RCW 29.64.010) which "allows for second recount upon application by the candidate, who may specify such recount be done manually or by (electronic) vote tally machine. Goldsmith has a right to an electronic recount that will control."

Judge Moynihan, who is reading the fine print, refers to a clause (RCW 29.62.050) which "stipulates `a recount by machine shall use separate and distinct programming.' Can you explain?" Chmelik explains how the vote counting software will be freshly installed (under Windows 95) from a copy delivered from the State Capitol under official seal.

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