After months of cryptic preliminary legal rulings and ceaseless back and forth in the court of public opinion, spurned Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi, who is contesting Christine Gregoire's narrow victory, will get his day in court. Actually, he'll get about two weeks in court beginning on May 23, when Chelan County Superior Court Judge John Bridges finally begins hearing the case. Here are some key issues to look out for:

Proportional Reduction: Until recently, this issue was at the heart of the Republican case. The Rossi camp argues that illegal votes should be deducted from the totals for each candidate based on the percentage each candidate received in the precincts where the vote originated. Thus, if Gregoire received 70 percent of the vote in a precinct with 10 illegal voters, seven votes would be deducted from her total, and three from Rossi's. Bridges ruled that he would consider whether to accept the Republicans' statistical analysis during the trial. Republicans claim to have found more than 1,000 illegal voters, mostly from King County, which voted heavily for Gregoire. Democrats will argue that proportional reduction is "not scientific," and will further argue that even if it is used, Gregoire still wins, says Democratic spokesperson Amanda Fuchs.

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Bashing King County: That doesn't trouble state Republican Party Chair Chris Vance. "One hint: This is not just about which side has more felons," he says. "King County made so many errors that there is no way to rule out the possibility of vote fraud." Republicans believe that Bridges has hinted that if they can show that procedures in King County were so lax and corrupted that there is reason to believe a fundamental disregard of the law occurred, he will overturn the election. They cite depositions of King County elections officials and other evidence that they believe will prove this case. Fuchs counters that there may have been errors in King County, but some of those actually aided Rossi. And Bridges has set a high bar for Republicans: They have to prove not only that the election was marred by substantial errors, but that Rossi would have won if the errors hadn't occurred. ■

sandeep@thestranger.com

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