It appears likely at least two races on the November general election ballot are headed for a recount.
As of Wednesday, Vancouver City Council candidate Kim D. Harless was leading challenger John Blom by 45 votes. With a difference of only 0.14 percentage point between the two candidates, a recount is almost guaranteed.
In the most recent results posted, Clark County Elections officials had counted 16,773 votes for Harless and 16,728 for Blom, or 50.07 percent to 49.93 percent. Blom started out ahead by 449 votes on election night but watched that lead dwindle throughout the week before losing the lead to Harless on Monday.
Another tight race is the District 1 position on the Hockinson School District Board of Directors. Teresa VanNatta has a 17-vote lead over Tim Hawkins, or 50.27 percent to 49.73 percent. VanNatta took an early lead on election night by more than 200 votes, but saw that lead slip away as late-arriving ballots were counted.
State law requires a machine recount when the difference between the top two candidates is less than 2,000 votes, and also less than 0.5 percent of the total number of votes cast for both candidates.
A manual recount is required when the difference between the top two candidates is less than 150 votes and is less than 0.25 percent of the total votes cast for both candidates.
“It’s almost a certainty the Vancouver City Council race will be a mandatory recount. The Hockinson School District may well also be a mandatory recount. That has to start three business days after (the election) certification,” said Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey.
The recount process would begin on Nov. 29. During that week, election staff will gather all of the ballots that have the races to be recounted on them, then sort the ballots by precinct. The following week, the ballots will be hand counted by precinct and compared with the machine-count results.
Candidates, political party officers, or a group of five or more registered voters can also request a recount within three days after election certification, but would have to pay for the recount effort.
The county still has around 100-150 ballots left to process and count. Many of those remaining ballots have signature issues that could take several days to resolve.
“That’s a big chunk of them,” Kimsey said. “Also, we are reviewing the ballot envelopes returned to us by voters in precincts 930 and 625, where we mistakenly sent 2,120 voters the wrong ballot.”
The incorrect ballots were sent out in mid-October to Precinct 625 north of Camas and Precinct 930 northeast of Camas. Although corrected ballots were sent out with a letter explaining the mix-up, the Clark County Elections Office now is taking extra time to ensure they’re counted correctly.
“There’s the correct ballot envelope and the correct ballot, and then there’s the incorrect ballot envelope and the incorrect ballot. Voters are sending back all combinations of those,” Kimsey added. “So we are examining those, and if a voter sent us the wrong ballot, it gets duplicated — with their choices — onto the correct ballot.”
To date, the county has tallied 113,100 ballots, a turnout of 34.86 percent of eligible voters.
For those ballots with signature issues, which usually stem from either a missing signature or the signature on the ballot not matching the signature on file, Kimsey said it’s not too late to get them counted before the Nov. 23 certification.
The Elections Office sends a letter to all voters with disputed ballots, along with any necessary forms and instructions. If you get a letter, follow the instructions on the form and return it to Clark County Elections no later than 5 p.m. Nov. 22. The form must be returned in the envelope provided, or it can be dropped off in person to ensure it is received before the deadline.
“Voters should have improved confidence that we administer elections per state law and federal law, and that we are carefully — voter by voter — reviewing signatures and ensuring that the signature we have on the ballot envelope matches the signature in the voter-registration record,” Kimsey said.
Missing-signature and signature-update forms can be found on the county website. Voters can track their ballots for each election — from the time it goes out in the mail to when it’s received by the Clark County Elections Office to be processed and counted — at www.votewa.gov.