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March 24, 2023

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Clark County Auditor Kimsey says it will take rest of week to tally thousands of remaining ballots

87,000 ballots were still be to counted after election night

By , Columbian staff writer

Now that the rush of election night is over, many Clark County voters are wondering when the results will be final, especially with several races still too close to call.

“Accuracy is more important than speed,” Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey said Wednesday.

Although nearly 119,000 ballots had been processed and tallied by Tuesday night, it will likely take the rest of the week to tally the 87,000 ballots the Clark County Elections Office still has on hand.

“We’re shooting for 18,000 today and every day until we get through them,” Kimsey said.

Like the 2018 midterm election, this year’s election saw an unusually large number of ballots turned in during the final days. The elections office saw more than 66,000 ballots arrive on Monday and Tuesday; that’s 38.07 percent of the total ballots received so far. In 2018, more than 79,000 ballots were cast on Election Day or the day before.

The trend toward late-arriving ballots seems to have begun with the 2016 election, when more than 80,000 ballots arrived on Election Day and the day prior. Before that election, it was more common to see 40,000 to 50,000 ballots arrive in the final days.

Processing and tabulating each ballot is a lengthy, step-by-step process. While elections workers can complete much of this process ahead of time for ballots arriving early, late-arriving ballots must still be processed and that takes time.

When a ballot comes into the elections office, the signature is compared against the signature on file in the voter registration database. If the signature matches, it moves on to the next step. If the signature does not match or is missing, the voter is contacted by mail and given an opportunity to correct that ballot.

The next step is to sort the ballots by precinct to ensure each ballot is from the right precinct. Once the sorting is completed, the ballots are taken to two-person teams where the affidavit envelopes and secrecy sleeves containing the ballots are separated. The secrecy sleeves are arranged in stacks, which are then switched with the other person on the team. The ballots are then inspected for overvotes, write-in votes or other things that may keep it from being scanned by the computer software.

From there, the ballots are scanned and the results tabulated.

With the winners and losers of some races — such as the 17th Legislative District battle between Kevin Waters and Terri Niles or the 18th Legislative District race between Stephanie McClintock and John Zingale — separated by just a few hundred votes, a recount remains a possibility.

Under Washington law, a recount is mandatory when the difference between two candidates is less than 2,000 votes and less than one-half of 1 percent of the total number of votes cast.

Updated election results will be posted online each day at as long as there are 500 or more ballots to process. Election results must be certified by Nov. 29.

Be sure to check out The Columbian’s complete election coverage at