WASHINGTON — Gov. Inslee is calling on Washington elected officials to publicly rebuke President Donald Trump's attempts to disenfranchise voters by ending ballot counting prematurely.
As the coronavirus pandemic forced most states to adopt a vote-by-mail system for the first time ever, political analysts warned that it may take several days before the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election were fully known. Despite that warning, and with several states still counting their ballots, late Tuesday night President Donald Trump addressed the nation, prematurely and falsely declaring victory over challenger Joe Biden, and calling for an end to all further vote counting.
Trump's address was met with harsh criticism from both sides of the aisle, and early Wednesday Inslee released a statement calling on Washingtonian officials to defend the rule of law.
"I call on elected officials across the country, regardless of party, to stand up and protect the will of the voters," wrote Inslee. "It may take time to count every ballot, but the voice of the American people is worth the wait."
Inslee reiterated his message in a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
"More voices in the chorus to protect American democracy are necessary," Inslee said. "That's important right now when, unfortunately, we have a president who is making baseless claims about legally cast ballots that must be counted in accordance with the law."
Throughout the day Wednesday the president continued to bemoan that states were counting and tallying ballots that had been mailed and submitted before the election deadline, making unsubstantiated claims of election tampering.
They are finding Biden votes all over the place — in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. So bad for our Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 4, 2020
"That is wrong, that is just flat wrong. That contravenes Washington state law, and we will not allow the president to stop us from counting those valid ballots," Inslee said.
Under Washington state law, any ballot that has been left in a drop box or mailed and postmarked before the 8 p.m. deadline on Nov 3. must be counted. In rare cases, or in the case of military members voting from overseas, ballots that have been postmarked on time will take several days to get to election officials, meaning some percentages will shift and close races can be decided well after Election Day. The federal government allows for this itself: under federal law, the election isn't certified and over until at least three weeks have passed since the deadline, meaning Washington's vote will not be officially certified and done until Nov. 24.
Despite the president's calls to illegally end the count, Inslee expressed confidence that every valid ballot would be tallied.
"States control elections, not the federal government," Inslee writes. "We know that counting continues until every ballot is tallied. This is how elections have always worked and the process must be respected."
During Inslee's conference the governor also noted that he believed that the votes were trending towards a Biden victory. When asked if he would accept a cabinet position from a Biden administration, Inslee reaffirmed that he would not. As of the Nov. 3. Election, Inslee has just won his third term as Washington Governor, something that has not happened in the evergreen state since 1972.