Over 200 Island County primary ballots rejected

More than 200 ballots were rejected Monday at the Island County Auditor’s office because of late postmarks and other issues.

The Canvas Board met Tuesday to review the ballots and what to do with them.

“It was a very somber mood in that meeting,” said Elections Supervisor Michele Reagan.

In Washington state, the primary election determines which two candidates will move forward to the general election in November, regardless of their party affiliation.

As of the most recent ballot count, held Thursday, two of the county’s races are very close.

In the race for Island County treasurer, former deputy treasurer Wanda Grone is just 12 votes ahead of escrow manager Christa Canell.

The final count will determine which of them will face incumbent Ana Maria Nuñez in November’s general election.

Nunez took is guaranteed a place on the November ballot having received 45 percent of the vote.

For the Island County District No. 3 commissioner seat, one Democrat and four Republicans sought the position that represents North Whidbey and Camano Island.

Democrat Karla Jacks, of Camano Island, took the lead in the commissioner race with 48 percent of the vote. Republican Rick Hannold received the second highest number of votes with 15 percent, just 47 votes more than number-three finisher Aubrey Vaughan.

Vaughan, also a Republican, is currently serving as interim commissioner, appointed to the seat vacated by Republican Kelly Emerson.

A total of 226 ballots had late post marks, six ballots did not come in the required blue signature envelope, and one envelope had two ballots in it, neither of which could be counted, according to the Auditor’s office.

Each ballot must correspond with a name and address of the voter that appears on the blue signature envelope, according to state law.

Last year, only 111 primary ballots were rejected.

Making up the Canvas Board, which oversees the vote counts, are the chairwoman of the Island County commissioners, currently Jill Johnson, and representatives from both the county prosecutor’s and auditor’s offices.

“It was difficult to see so many ballots go uncounted, especially knowing that those ballots could have clarified the will of the voters in many races,” said Johnson.

“The process for counting ballots is clear and as hard as it was to reject the 233 ineligible ballots, it was also a real moment of pride to realize how seriously we value each and every vote and how fair and just our voting process is,” she said.

While the rejected ballots were not reflected in the county’s most recent vote count, the more than 100 votes remaining could determine the outcome of the closest races.

Approximately 170 residents were notified by mail if they did not remember to sign the envelope or if the signature didn’t match, Reagan said. Of those, 80 have not been fixed by voters. Those voters have until 4 p.m. Aug. 18 to correct signature issues.

Reagan said that between 50-60 valid ballots received after the county’s most recent vote count will be added to the final tally.

The primary election is slated to be certified Tuesday, Aug. 19.

The totals will be announced during a Canvas Board meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday. The certified results will be posted after that meeting.

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