South County Politics: Officials planning for recount in school board race

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Snohomish County elections officials are already planning for a recount in the race for an Edmonds School District board position on the Aug. 1 primary election ballot.

Edmonds School Board candidates Cathy Baylor and Cindy Sackett were within 11 votes of each other in the Wednesday, Aug. 9 count of ballots.

State law requires a recount when the difference between two candidates is less than 0.50 percent of the two-candidate total, and a hand recount when the difference is less than 0.25 percent.

The Friday difference of 11 votes was 0.09 percent.

County elections manager Garth Fell said Wednesday that he planned to have complete plans when he meets with the county canvassing board to certify election results Tuesday, Aug. 15.

He is assuming that the election will require a hand recount.

With Sackett’s total standing at 6,146 votes and Baylor’s at 6,157, the percentages would be based on a two-candidate total of 12,303. So, a 61-vote difference would require a recount, and a 30-vote difference would require a hand recount.

Officials still are counting ballots, but with only one or two ballots coming in each day, taking the contest out of recount range is unforeseeable.

The first step in the recount process is to separate the 23,500 ballots cast within the school district from the rest of the 109,500 ballots cast countywide. Fell expects that to take about four days.
Then comes the actual counting. Two-person teams count stacks of ballots until they agree on the totals. If their final conclusion is different than the original results, a supervisor from the elections office gives those ballots to a second team for comparison.

Those teams have to determine voter intent on each ballot, especially from marks that are too light for ballot counting machines to pick them up.

The teams are made up of seasonal elections employees.
The ability to catch marks that don’t show up on counting machines means that recount totals go up more often then they go down.

Fell said that he expects counting of this many ballots to take three or more days.

He needs to have the recount finished by Sept. 1.

Either Baylor or Sacketti will face Deborah Kilgore in November for an open position on the Edmonds School District 15 board.

Returns posted Wednesday showed Kilgore with 44.10 percent of district votes to 27.67 percent for Baylor and 27.62 percent for Sackett.

The Edmonds School District includes Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Woodway, part of Brier and unincorporated areas near those communities.

Correct fire authority turnout
When I said last week that voters who approved the South Snohomish County Regional Fire Authority represented a small part of the electorate, I gave the wrong turnout percentage. It is 21.38 percent.

–By Evan Smith

Evan Smith can be reached at schsmith@frontier.com.

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