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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Clark County election returns slow to come in

By Shari Phiel, Columbian staff writer
Published: August 9, 2022, 6:04am

If you think the results from the 2022 primary election seem to be posting slower than in previous years, you’d be correct. County Auditor Greg Kimsey said there’s a good reason why.

Unlike most elections, when ballots tend to arrive in a steady stream throughout the two weeks prior to election day, most of the ballots for the Aug. 2 primary arrived on the last days of the election.

Of the 143,140 ballots received by Clark County Elections for the primary, 65 percent — 92,275 ballots in all — arrived on the day before, day of, or day after primary Election Day. According to the county website, 65,368 ballots came in on Aug. 2, with another 15,775 arriving on Aug. 1, while 11,132 arrived on Aug. 3.

That’s 46 percent of the ballots arriving on Election Day alone.

By comparison, Kimsey said, the last midterm primary election in 2018 saw only 49,000 ballots arrive at the elections office during the same three-day period.

Because of the state’s mail-in voting method, ballots can arrive as late as Aug. 15 — the day before the election certification — and be counted in the primary results as long as they are postmarked by Aug. 2.

Early on, Kimsey predicted a 40-45 percent turnout for the midterm primary. The voter turnout now stands at 40.79 percent, with 30,000 ballots left to count as of Monday.

“We can tabulate hundreds of thousands (of ballots) per day. But what’s necessary to do that is to verify signatures and inspect ballots. It’s the signature verification process which is the more time-consuming part of the process,” Kimsey said.

Kimsey said all returned ballots must be processed before they can be tabulated, which includes verification of the voter’s signature against the signature on record and a ballot inspection. He said even though ballots that arrived earlier couldn’t be tallied until after 8 p.m. on Election Day, staff had been able to complete the signature verification process on early ballots, making counting on election night much faster.

While it varies from day to day, Kimsey said elections staff are inspecting an average of 15,000 ballots per day and verifying signatures on about 12,000 ballots per day. He said staff were working to inspect 20,000 ballots and verify signatures on 17,000 ballots on Monday. Nearly all of the ballots received, except those needing further verification, should be counted by today.

Those results will be posted around 5 p.m. today at https://clark.wa.gov/elections/results.