Benton, Stonier widen slight leads over opponents

Both tight contests appears headed for recounts

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

Published:

 
photoMonica Stonier
photoJulie Olson

Republican incumbent Don Benton slightly widened his lead over Democrat Tim Probst in the 17th District Senate race that remained too close to call on Wednesday, according to updated election results.

Benton leads by 110 votes, and the Clark County Elections Department still has about 5,900 ballots from across the county to count. Also, a couple hundred more military or overseas ballots could be on their way in the mail, election officials estimated.

The Senate race between Benton and Probst could be headed for a recount, because election officials are required to recount ballots in races that are closer than 2,000 votes and also closer than one half of a percentage point. On Wednesday, Benton had 50.01 percent of the vote while Probst had 49.81 percent of the vote.

Also potentially headed for a recount is the 17th District House race between Democrat Monica Stonier and Republican Julie Olson, who are running to succeed Probst. Rather than seek election to a third House term, Probst decided to run against Benton in the Senate.

Stonier extended her lead over Olson to 43 votes, according to Wednesday’s election results. She has 49.99 percent of the vote, while Olson has 49.91 percent of the vote, according to Wednesday’s preliminary results.

A total of 1,996 ballots were counted Wednesday at the Clark County Elections Office. Of those, 609 were from the 17th Legislative District.

If recounts are necessary, they would likely begin during the first week of December. Election results aren’t certified until 21 days after an election, and the 17th District ballots must be separated from the rest of the county’s ballots.

Clark County Elections Supervisor Tim Likness said he did not know how long each recount would take.

On Wednesday, elections officials received 95 additional ballots in the mail, Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey said. They also tabulated 1,355 so-called “My Vote” ballots, which were printed from the secretary of state’s website by a small segment of voters who had difficulty accessing the standard ballot.

Probst had a 222-vote lead on election night. Benton gained a 65-vote lead on Tuesday.

County election officials have received 192,662 ballots so far. That’s a voter turnout of 79.8 percent.

The next report from the Clark County Elections Department is expected to be released Thursday afternoon.

Stevie Mathieu: 360-735-4523 or stevie.mathieu@columbian.com or www.facebook.com/reportermathieu or www.twitter.com/col_politics