Voters gave the thumbs down to C-Tran Proposition 1 and county commissioner candidates Tom Mielke and David Madore took early leads as the first Clark County ballot returns were posted tonight.
Mielke, the Republican incumbent, has a 1.8 percentage point lead -- about 2,400 votes -- on Democrat Joe Tanner. In the other race, businessman David Madore, a Republican, was besting incumbent Republican Marc Boldt by nearly 7 percentage points, or an 8,000 vote lead.
C-Tran's Proposition 1 looked to be trailing badly. It would raise the sales tax by 1/10 of one percentage point to build a bus rapid transit line along Fourth Plain Boulevard to Westfield Vancouver mall and operate a light rail line through downtown Vancouver across the Columbia River Crossing. Only 43.67 percent of voters were supporting it, putting it almost 13,500 votes down. If turnout projections hold true, perhaps 48,000 more ballots will be counted in that race.
Vancouver voters were opposing formation of a metropolitan parks district by nearly 2-1. In Yacolt, voters were against a maintenance and operations levy for the town by nearly the same margin.
In the closely watched 17th District Senate race, Democrat Tim Probst drew first blood, taking a 200-vote lead over Republican incumbent Don Benton.
The open race for Probst's House seat was close, with Republican Julie Olson, who has experience as a school board member, slightly ahead of teacher Monica Stonier, a Democrat. In other legislative races, voters followed predictable patterns, electing Republicans in the 17th and 18th districts, and Democrats in the 49th.
Local voters were favoring Obama/Biden and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna, and opposing same-sex marriage and legalized marijuana. Those results will depend on numbers from many more places still to come.
Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Camas Republican, appeared to be well on her way to winning a second term.
In the nonpartisan race for Clark Public Utilities commissioner, Jim Malinowski enjoyed a nearly 9,000 vote margin over Julia Anderson.
Many thousands of ballots remain to be counted, with the next wave due late Wednesday afternoon. Unlike Oregon, Washington allows ballots to be counted as long as they are postmarked by Election Day, even if they are received several days later.
As of Tuesday the Clark County elections office had received 144,373 ballots of 242,867 sent to voters, or about 59.4 percent.
Tim Likness, the county's elections supervisor, said today that, as in previous elections, tonight's total does not include ballots dropped off in person at any of the official ballot collection stations around Clark County today. Those results will be seen starting with Wednesday's count.
Likness also said that he expects this year's return pattern to be similar to 2008. That year, 21.7 percent of the ballots were tabulated after the first results were posted on election night. That would translate to 57,200 ballots still to be counted.
In other words, election night trends may or may not be confirmed, Four years ago, for example, county Commissioner Mielke trailed his opponent on election night, only to gain ground and finally win the victory over the next few days.
The 2012 general election results will be certified Nov. 27.
Full stories will appear in Wednesday's print edition of The Columbian and also on www.columbian.com.