All I want for Christmas is an end to our election. Alas, though the vote counting is blessedly finished, we still don't have a governor. It's Scrooge-like to say so on Christmas...

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All I want for Christmas is an end to our election.

Alas, though the vote counting is blessedly finished, we still don’t have a governor.
It’s Scrooge-like to say so on Christmas Eve, but this election fight could persist well into 2005.

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Yes, Democrat Christine Gregoire has won the third and final count, by 130 votes.

But Republicans, bursting with newfound ardor to count every vote, vow to spend the holidays rounding up people who say their votes for Dino Rossi were wrongly rejected.

If that fails, the party is prepping for various lawsuits, some of which could be filed after Gregoire takes office.

And then there are crucial questions that have nothing to do with either candidate, such as how do we restore faith in our voting system?

So what’s going to happen next? Is there anything that will help us out of this mess?

• Rossi could give up.

There will be tremendous pressure on him to concede. Conventional wisdom says it would heal a bruised state while burnishing Rossi’s political image (maybe for the 2006 Senate race).

I don’t buy it. People who think the election was stolen — and that seems to include Rossi — will say he’s a weak-kneed pansy. Gregoire fought, so why shouldn’t he?

Concessions are overrated anyway. Does anyone believe Al Gore’s 2000 concession helped heal the nation?

Conceding also leaves vital questions — who really won, and was the election fair? — dangerously unanswered, so that wild conspiracy theories can take root.

• Rossi could contest the election.

Get ready for apocalyptic rhetoric about why this is a bad idea. Don’t believe it. Contesting the election in court won’t shut down government or poison politics much beyond their current contaminated state.

Paradoxically, a contest could be our best hope to move on. It would force critics to put up or shut up on this notion that the recount was rigged. They’d have to prove vote-counting manipulation in a courtroom, instead of just shouting it over the airwaves.

• We could flip a coin.

Seriously. Statisticians say our best counting technique — holding 2.9 million ballots up to the light — was not good enough to divine a winner in a race this close.

So why not call it a tie? Gregoire dubbed it so when she trailed, so logically it remains one now that she’s ahead.

Imagine if Gregoire agreed to a winner-take-all game of chance. The specter of months of investigations and lawsuits, not to mention years of seething, partisan bitterness, would vanish with a single flip of a coin.

For Gregoire, it would be a selfless act, an acknowledgement that public trust in our democratic institutions tops her political ambitions. It’s the sort of simple, heroic act that could help heal our wounds.

I know, I know. It’ll never happen. Someone would probably sue to stop the coin flip.

But aren’t the holidays the season of hope? That’s exactly how I’ll spend them: hoping.

Hoping this election ends by Easter.

Danny Westneat’s column appears Wednesday and Friday. Reach him at 206-464-2086 or dwestneat@seattletimes.com