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News / Northwest

Walla Walla elections office to start hand recount of presidential primary

By Kate Smith, Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
Published: April 5, 2024, 7:32am

WALLA WALLA — Presidential primary ballots cast by Walla Walla County voters will be recounted by hand starting Monday, April 8, to resolve a one or two ballot discrepancy.

The irregularities are tied to the reporting system, not the tabulator machine that sorts and counts ballots, Auditor Karen Martin said.

“We know the number of ballots, but the reporting system is still showing one off,” she said. “We just want to ensure that everything truly did count correctly.”

The results from the two tabulators are passed by USB to be uploaded to the election computer, which isn’t connected to any network or internet. From there, the results go into the reporting system, and that is where the total was not adding up, Martin said.

When they noticed the issue, election officials physically counted the ballots to get a numerical total. The number of ballots recorded on the tabulator was correct each time, but the total in the reporting system was one or two ballots off, Martin said.

The discrepancy has to do with either write-ins or overvotes, where voters select more than one option on their ballot, Martin said.

She said her office has been in contact with the Office of the Secretary of State about the issue since before results were certified last week. A recount must take place after the results are certified, she added.

If the hand count changes the county’s results in any way, there is a process the county can follow to update the official results with the state, she said.

Martin and the other members of the Walla Walla Canvassing Board, Sebastian Roberts with the Prosecutor’s Office and County Commissioner Jenny Mayberry, met Tuesday, April 2, to authorize the hand recount.

The recount of 13,915 ballots will begin Monday morning at 10 a.m. in the Board of County Commissioner chambers and training room, 314 W. Main St. Room 203.

Six elections officials from Thurston County will help with the count, Martin said.

The counters will work in teams of two at six tables throughout the room. Each political party can have an observer stationed at each table.

“This is just a matter of a little more verification, or confidence,” Martin said. “We just want to make sure everything is correct.”

Walla Walla County’s last hand recount was for Christin Gregoire and Dino Rossi’s gubernatorial race in 2004.