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McDowell still has a chance

With an estimated 700 votes left to count, Island County Commissioner Mac McDowell must overcome a 62-vote lead by challenger Angie Homola or he will find himself without a government job for the first time in 16 years.

Meanwhile, in the other close Island County election, appointed 10th District State Rep. Norma Smith forged ahead of her challenger, Tim Knue. Although Knue was ahead on the election night count Nov. 4, Smith steadily gained ground. She finally took the lead Friday, and Monday’s district-wide total gave her a 450-vote advantage.

With county and state offices closed Tuesday for Veterans Day, the election drama will continue this afternoon, Nov. 12. The Island County Auditor’s Office plans another vote tally announcement by 6 p.m.

Homola, a Democratic newcomer to elective politics, was a ahead of Republican McDowell by 848 votes on election night. Since then another 9,405 votes have been counted, with McDowell gaining 378 votes over that span. At that rate, he would gain only 29 more votes in the final 700 ballots, but elections are more complicated than simple math.

McDowell theorized Tuesday that the late votes have favored him because of a controversy that arose in the press over Homola’s history as a county employee. Some poor job performance reviews made headlines on South Whidbey and North Whidbey, and McDowell said that likely helped him. But many voters mailed in their ballots before the controversy broke out.

Depending on the outcome of the final vote count, an automatic recount may be required because of the closeness of the race between McDowell and Homola. A recount is require when there is less than one half of one percent difference and if the gap is less than 2,000 votes. As of Monday, there was only two-tenths of one percent difference in the vote totals.

Nevertheless, McDowell said he expects the count today to be decisive.

“I’ve seen a couple of recounts over the years. There’s no reason to think it will change the outcome,” he said.

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