County auditor says around 700 ballots challenged
By Stefanie Donahue
Stakes are high, margins are slim and voters are still unsure about which state 42nd legislative district candidates came out victorious this general election.
According to the latest ballot count, which took place at 4:20 p.m. on November 9, two-term state senator Doug Ericksen (R) is in the lead with 72 votes over his opponent, Bellingham city councilmember Pinky Vargas (D). Ericksen received 36,048 votes (50.05 percent), while Vargas received 35,976 votes (49.95 percent).
Running for state representative position 1, incumbent Luanne Van Werven (R) is in the lead with 131 votes over her opponent Justin Boneau (D). Van Werven received 35,964 votes (50.09 percent), while Boneau received 35,833 votes (49.91 percent).
Not as close is the race for state representative position 2. Western Washington University professor Sharon Shewmake (D) is the likely winner with 941 votes over her opponent, incumbent Vincent Buys (R). Shewmake received 36,379 votes (50.66 percent), while Buys received 35,438 (49.34 percent).
According to the Washington Secretary of State’s office, recounts for non-state races are mandated under certain circumstances.
A machine recount is required when the difference between the top two candidates is less than 2,000 votes and also less than half of 1 percent of the total number of votes cast for both candidates. Using current vote tallies, the state senate and state representative position 1 races are eligible.
A manual recount is required when the difference between the top two candidates is less than 150 votes and also less than one quarter of 1 percent of the total votes cast for both candidates. Using current vote tallies, the state senate race is eligible.
Recounts can also be requested and paid for by an individual or group. In that case, if the recount results in a reversed outcome the county would take on the cost.
County canvassing boards determine the time and date of a recount. Whatcom County auditor Debbie Adelstein said a date for a recount has yet to be selected for any general election race but noted it would take place after the election certification on November 27.
An estimated 700 ballots had been challenged as of November 13 for various reasons, Adelstein said. A meeting is scheduled for November 15 to determine whether to accept or reject ballots following which accepted ballots will be included in the results. Recounts, according to the auditor, won’t occur until after the election is certified on November
The two most common problems are ballots with signatures that appear fraudulent and ballots that are placed in the incorrect envelopes. “There’s a whole list of what a ballot can be challenged for,” she said.
More ballots are expected to come in from other counties in Washington from residents who placed their ballots in the wrong ballot boxes.
Adelstein said she received an estimated 200 ballots on November 13 from various counties, including King County.
Military and overseas ballots can also arrive within 20 days after a general election.
To track whether or not your ballot was processed, visit bit.ly/1WictwG.