Auditor’s staff gets ready to count again

The third time’s the charm — at least that’s the hope for the upcoming recount for the governor’s seat.

Auditor Suzanne Sinclair said that counting will start this week in Island County. Four teams of two people, each with an observer, will pore over each of the county’s 39,070 ballots by hand.

The state Democratic party is paying for the manual recount to the tune of 25 cents per ballot. In Island County, the cost will be $9.767.50.

The manual recount comes on the heels of a machine recount which left Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi with a 42 vote lead over Democrat Christine Gregoire. That came after the first count was certified, when Rossi led Gregoire by 261 votes.

Sinclair said the hand count will not begin until Thursday, when a court decision is expected that could change how some provisional ballots will be handled.

Island County Deputy Auditor Anne LaCour said the recount is expected to take four to five days.

Most of the counters will be observers with the auditor’s office and will be paid by part of the $730,000 check Democrats delivered to the Secretary of State’s office Friday. Democratic leaders raised approximately $250,000 in the final 24 hours before the deadline in order to finance the recount.

LaCour said that regardless of the outcome, this will be the final count.

“There can’t be another one, unless ordered by the courts,” she said. “State law does not provide for a third recount.”

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