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Dec. 8, 2019

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Woodland levy lid lift still 2 votes shy

Mayor says he hopes city can prevail in effort to raise funding for police

By , Columbian Staff Writer
Published: November 20, 2019, 6:53pm

The Woodland levy lid lift to fund police personnel and equipment made up some of the gap in the latest election results from Cowlitz County, but the measure is still trailing as of Wednesday.

The lid lift is now trailing by two votes, 689-687. Woodland is partly in Clark and Cowlitz counties, so votes from both counties are tabulated for the measure. No new Clark County ballots were tabulated in the last count, so that total still stands even at 16 votes for and against.

On the previous ballot count from Nov. 13, the measure was trailing by five votes. Woodland Mayor Will Finn is still hopeful the city can sneak out a win. Carolyn Fundingsland, Cowlitz County auditor, said recently that there are no valid ballots collected that still need to be counted. However, the city had 12 ballots that were challenged, either due to a lack of signature or a signature that didn’t match records with the elections office.

“It’s still really too close to tell,” Finn said. “There’s an active push to at least get people’s ballots counted.”

Seven of those 12 challenged ballots were added to Wednesday’s ballot count, leaving five potential ballots left to fix. Of the new ballots included in Wednesday’s count, five were in favor of the measure compared with two against. Finn said city officials are working on getting those people to go in and sign or fix the signature on their ballots even though there is no way right now of knowing how they voted.

The next ballot count is scheduled for Tuesday, the same day the election will be certified. If the vote doesn’t turn in Woodland’s favor, there is the option to order a recount. Fundingsland said a recount can be requested within two business days of certification of election results, although it can’t be requested by the city government. Instead, it must be made by a group of at least five registered voters.

A recount must also be paid for, Fundingsland said. A manual recount — where every individual vote is counted by hand — costs 25 cents per ballot, Fundingsland said, while a machine recount costs 15 cents per ballot.

Finn said he was telling people at first the city would definitely try for a recount. He backed off that Wednesday evening, saying once the results are certified, he’ll talk to a few other city officials and see what everyone thinks.

If the vote doesn’t turn, it’ll be the second close defeat for the levy lid lift measure, which failed by 18 votes in 2017.

“This election cycle has sent a clear message to our entire team at the city that we’re still a divided city, and we still don’t have a clear path forward,” Finn said. “The government is not here to dictate. We’re here to facilitate. That’s hard to do with a divided community.”

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