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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Ballot recount: Kim Harless wins Vancouver City Council seat

Teresa VanNatta will take seat on Hockinson school board

By Shari Phiel, Columbian staff writer,
Lauren Ellenbecker, Columbian staff writer, and
Griffin Reilly, Columbian staff writer
Published: December 8, 2021, 11:15am

The unofficial results of ballot recounts released Wednesday indicate Kim D. Harless will serve as the next Vancouver city councilor and Teresa VanNatta will take a seat on the Hockinson School District board.

There were slight changes in the race between Harless and John Blom for the Vancouver City Council Position 1 seat.

Harless received one additional vote after the manual recount, bringing her tally to 16,845 votes. Blom also got one addition vote, for a total of 16,790.

“Everything leading up to this moment has had an asterisk involved,” Harless said. “I’m excited to have a true celebration.”

Blom said he wasn’t thrown off guard by the results. He said he is looking forward to spending his free time focusing on his family and career.

“I would have been surprised if the recount said something different,” Blom said.

The changes in the vote total stem from two ballots that were in question but did not change the election outcomes.

“We did discover two ballots that had very light pen marks that, when we scanned them, were so light the scanner didn’t recognize them,” said Elections Supervisor Cathie Garber. “They ended up being one vote for each candidate.”

Garber said there also are two ballots with write-in votes left to review.

“We are taking them to our canvassing board to determine if it’s a common name variation for one of the candidates. So we might add two more write-ins to a candidate and then remove two undervotes,” Garber added.

Garber noted adding those two write-in ballots would not change the election results.

The city council race has been a roller-coaster ride for the candidates. Blom took an early lead on election night, leading Harless by 449 votes. In the days following, Blom’s lead narrowed to 350 votes, then 41, and then increased slightly to 178 before disappearing entirely on Nov. 8 when Harless pulled ahead by 29 votes. In the end, the two candidates were separated by just 55 votes. 

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In the Hockinson school board race, VanNatta received 1,600 votes to incumbent Tim Hawkins’ 1,589 votes. The manual recount totals exactly matched the machine count from November.

VanNatta also saw her lead of 200 votes on election night slip away as late-arriving ballots came into the elections office. In the final count, the two candidates were separated by 11 votes.

“The whole process has taught me a lot. I’m thankful for everyone who supported me throughout the election, I never could have done it without them,” VanNatta said Wednesday. “My opponent had huge support, too, and I feel like that’s a testament to the passionate people here in Hockinson.”

Despite having to wait for final election results, VanNatta said she remained confident.

“When the election was in recount, I stayed calm and still felt like I would win. I didn’t feel like it would flip,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to being such an important part of the community again.”

Overall, voter turnout for the November general election was on target with the 30-35 percent turnout elections officials had hoped for. That number seemed unreachable on election night with less than 19 percent of voters casting ballots. But late-arriving ballots drove that number up to just shy of 35 percent in the final count. 

The manual recounts were completed late Tuesday evening. The elections canvassing board will review the recount results, as well as the two ballots with write-in votes, on Thursday and the recount results will be certified Monday.