The cliffhanger in this year's Seattle mayoral race has sparked renewed interest in election reform.
It was nearly a week after the polls closed before cell phone executive Joe Mallahan conceded victory to Mike McGinn.
The delay in learning who'll lead the state's largest city has Gov. Chris Gregoire calling for election reforms to speed future counts.
"Those candidates deserve to know. The people deserve to know," Gregoire told The Associated Press.
The Legislature ought to listen to the governor on this one.
Gregoire, of course, is intimately familiar with the anxiety-inducing results of a prolonged ballot count.
It took two months of uncertainty and three statewide tallies before Gregoire was declared the victor over Dino Rossi in 2004.
The rancor surrounding that drawn-out contest still lingers five years later.
Any race that close -- Gregoire won by 129 votes in the final count -- is destined for controversy no matter what election reforms the Legislature might approve.
But lawmakers can easily fix election rules that stretch for more contests than necessary for extra days and weeks.
The long wait for many final results is an unintended consequence of Washington's move to the all-mail ballot. Only Pierce County still uses polling places, and even there most voters mail their ballots.
You'd think with 99 percent of Washington voters casting ballots by mail, final results would come sooner, not later.
But unlike most states that vote by mail, Washington's ballots aren't due on election day. Votes postmarked by 8 p.m. election day are valid, even as they trickle in for days and weeks.
Typically, half the ballots cast in Washington aren't in officials' hands on election night. With so many outstanding ballots, it takes a strong lead to identify a clear victor.
Gregoire's right when she says all involved -- voters and candidates -- deserve better.
The fix is easy. Simply require ballots to be in the hands of election officials by 8 p.m. election day. Procrastinators might be forced to drive to the county auditor's office if they want their votes counted, but so what?
Ballots are sent to voters more than two weeks before the election deadline. There's ample time to make sure yours reaches the auditor in time.
Critics worry about the potential to disenfranchise voters, but that doesn't seem to be a problem in states that require ballots reach officials on election day.
Oregon -- a vote-by-mail state with an election-day deadline -- has voter turnout rates similar to Washington's numbers, and sometimes even higher.
What Oregon doesn't have are contests left undecided for days while election officials wait for the mail.