Saturday, September 24, 2022
Sept. 24, 2022

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Camden: How did Kent pull off late win?


The congressional race in Southwest Washington should serve as a lesson to would-be elections deniers who question the integrity of the nation’s voting systems, or who insist, like the former president, that ballot counting should stop and winners be declared on election night.

Republican Joe Kent, running for the 3rd Congressional District seat, believes the 2020 election was actually won by Donald Trump. He decided to challenge incumbent Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who voted to impeach Trump as well as to confirm the Electoral College results that awarded the presidency to Joe Biden.

On election night, Kent was some 5,000 votes behind Herrera Beutler and in third place in the district’s primary. Unlike in horse racing, a third-place finish in the top-two primary is out of the money when the candidates cross the finish line.

Kent sent an email to supporters saying his ballot was rejected, which got some of the talking heads in conservative media questioning the fairness of the election. After all, what are the odds of the candidate himself having his ballot rejected?

Turns out, however, the ballot wasn’t rejected. Instead, it was set aside when an elections worker couldn’t match the signature on the envelope with the one they had on file for Kent. He was contacted, provided a signature that matched and his ballot was processed.

This was an example of election officials working on the very thing Kent supposedly worries about, ballot integrity. The typical rant of election conspiracists is that anyone can steal ballots from mailboxes or somehow reproduce them and their coded envelopes.

A valid signature is the safeguard against such imagined perfidy, as a boiler room of illegal commie terrorist immigrant felons is unlikely to be able to match the signatures of the many voters they are trying to supplant and wouldn’t be around when elections officials tried to contact the unsuspecting voter whose ballot was purloined.

In the counts, which typically involve ballots marked and mailed or deposited in drop boxes on Election Day, Kent went from being thousands of votes behind Herrera Beutler to being about 900 ahead. Had ballot counting stopped on election night, he’d have been shut out of his later victory.

Herrera Beutler didn’t cry foul or demand an investigation. She conceded. She’s been involved in enough campaigns to know that as the late votes get counted in Washington, there’s usually a shift.

Some cleanup

Julie Anderson, who captured the second spot in the primary for Washington secretary of state, accomplished something no previous candidate for statewide office has done. She is the first independent candidate running for a partisan statewide office to make it through a top-two primary that included members of both major parties.

Usually, the presence of “prefers Republican Party” and “prefers Democratic Party” after other names in the same race will draw enough votes to knock an independent or minor-party hopeful out.

In this primary, however, the presence of three Republicans fractured the party vote and each got between 10 percent and 12 percent of the ballots, allowing Anderson to edge into second place with just under 13 percent.

Listing a made-up minor-party preference on the ballot was as successful as usual, which is to say, not at all.

Setting aside the candidates who tried to denote a particular flavor of their major party — like MAGA Republican, Independent Republican or Progressive Democrat — the best any member of a make-believe party did was 16.6 percent for Lori Theis of the “Election Integrity Party” in a legislative race in suburban King and Snohomish counties. That was good enough for second place as there was no Republican in the race, and twice as good as another Election Integrity candidate in a nearby district, who finished a distant third.

Bad news for Theis is the incumbent Democrat, Cindy Ryu, got the other 83 percent of the vote.

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