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Jan. 28, 2023

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Flip of a coin might determine winner of Republican PCO contest

Recount slated in Precinct 692, where two candidates are tied

By , Columbian politics reporter

The fate of the election for Precinct Committee Officer representing Precinct 692 could be decided by a flick of a wrist.

Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey’s wrist, to be specific.

The race between Sean Emerson and Carolyn Simpson for the Republican Party seat is tied 49 to 49. The tie triggered a mandatory recount. Recounts are required in elections where there’s less than 1/2 of 1 percent between the two candidates.

That recount process starts at 9 a.m. Monday. But if the recount shows the tie stands, the race will be decided with a coin toss.

“I have to make sure I have a quarter that day,” Kimsey said.

As auditor, Kimsey has the “honor” of performing the deciding flip. Candidates will call “heads” or “tails” and the winner would be determined then and there.

“If you think about it, when the voters are that evenly split, the voters have said half of us want that one half of us want this one, how else are you going to do it?” Kimsey asked.

But first, the lengthy recount process has to take place.

Elections staff have to sort through all the county ballots, of which there are 100,093, and pull the 203 with this specific race listed. Although there were 203 votes available, only 98 people selected a candidate in this race.

“The counting of the ballots will not take very long at all, but finding the ballots to recount, that is a pretty significant effort,” Kimsey said.

Staff should identify which bundles contain the ballots on Friday in preparation for the recount. Staff will then take Aug. 27 and possibly Aug. 28 to sort ballots from those identified bundles, and at 9 a.m. Aug. 29 the official recount will begin.

The last time a recount was triggered in a PCO race, Kimsey said they ended up flipping a coin.

“It’s likely that will happen (again),” he said.

This PCO race isn’t the first to attract attention to what are typically unassuming elections.

In May, conservative activist Christian Berrigan filed a petition arguing a candidate was ineligible to run for a PCO position. The case was ultimately dismissed, and Berrigan was ordered to pay attorney’s fees and sanctions. Berrigan lost his own bid for PCO Precinct 234 to Bill Davis, 23.93 to 76.07 percent.

Of the 33 positions with candidates for the Republican Party, only three races were close calls. In nearly every position, the undervotes were larger than the number of votes cast. And some relatively prominent names lost their bids.

Former Clark County Republican Party board member Katja Delevar, who was removed from the board in October, lost Precinct 912 to Stac Boyd by 27.97 percent to 72.03 percent, respectively.

CCRP State Committeewoman Stacie Jesser, who resigned from the Clark County Republican Women, lost Precinct 940 to Glenn Kincaid, who earned 56.57 percent of the vote to her 43.43 percent.

Seeking Precinct 965, John Ley lost with 42.16 percent to Jennifer McDaniel, who took 57.84 percent of the vote. Ley was also seeking to replace Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, as representative of the 18th Legislative District. But he withdrew from the race in April.

Clark County Republican Party Chair David Gellatly said the losses of some candidates, including Delevar, show the community is happy with the direction of the party.

“This speaks volumes about what our community expects from our party, and what it firmly rejects,” Gellatly said. “The party will be firmly in the hands of good people that believe in our values and principles and operate with integrity.”

Columbian politics reporter