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County’s recount starts Saturday

For the next week or so, Washington state will have a Governor named Dino.

Certified results show Republican Dino Rossi ahead of Democrat Christine Gregoire by 261 votes, which means an automatic recount.

In Island County, the race was not nearly as close. Rossi’s 19,992 votes led Gregoire’s 16,888 after final, certified results were released Wednesday afternoon.

Island County Auditor Suzanne Sinclair said the county’s recount process will begin on Saturday when the canvassing board will meet to unseal the ballots and organize them for counting.

The state avoided a manual recount because the two candidates were separated by more than 150 votes.

“I don’t know if you get any more accuracy with people instead of machines,” Sinclair said. “It’s a human system and there are cases where a machine will grab two (ballots) instead of one.”

Secretary of State Sam Reed declared the recount Wednesday afternoon even before the final results were in for the closest governor’s election ever held in this state.

“Everybody had long since resigned to the idea of a mandatory recount,” Sinclair said.

According to the Secretary of State’s office, the last statewide recount was in the 2000 general election. Slade Gordon lost to Maria Cantwell in the U.S. Senate race. No recount has ever reversed the results of an election.

Recounts in Island County have also never altered the outcome of an election, Sinclair said. In 1994, Tom Shaughnessy won his county commissioner seat by seven votes. And in 1998, Shaughnessy was on the losing end of a recount to Bill Thorne. Thorne won by approximately 30 votes, Sinclair said.

By law, a recount is mandatory when the final tallies separate two candidates by less than 2,000 votes and that difference is also less than 0.5 percent. If the separation is less than 150 votes and 0.25 percent, a recount by hand is ordered.

Following a fruitless recount in 2000 for Secretary of State, in which more than 10,000 votes separated the candidates, it now costs for people to request a recount outside of the mandatory requirements.

To finance the recount, the requesting party must make a deposit with the state in the amount of 15 cents per vote for a machine recount and 25 cents per vote for a manual recount.

If 2.8 million people vote in the general election, the cost of the deposit with the state would be $700,000 for a manual recount. The cost of the deposit for a machine recount would be $420,000. If the costs of the recount exceed the amount on deposit, the requesting party is responsible for those costs. If the cost is less than the deposit, a refund is made of the difference.

Sinclair said the actual counting will not begin until Monday and will likely take two days at the most.

Andy Valrosa, chair of the Island County GOP, said that he was pleased with the position Rossi is in.

“I would feel better with a little bigger margin, about two or three thousand votes would be nice,” Valrosa said. “One thing I do feel good about is we doorbelled the undecided voters in the county... and with this race as close as it was, I’d like to think we played a part in that 261 vote difference.”

Although the numbers show a definite split among Washington voters, Valrosa said he does not feel that is the case.

“I think you’d have to be naive not to think there’s a divide,” he said. “But for a Republican to get elected governor, it’s obvious a lot of people crossed party lines to vote Dino.”

With history on his side, Valrosa said he has hope for his candidate.

“I’m always an optimist, and as an optimist, I think we know who the next governor is,” he said.

Final results from the election must be certified 30 days after the general election, which is Dec. 2.

You can reach News-Times reporter Eric Berto at eberto@whidbeynewstimes.com

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