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Homola leads, hand count next

With vote counting nearing an end, there is still no official winner in a remarkably tight race for a seat on the Island County Board of Commissioners.

The final results won’t be known until early December, following a likely recount by hand.

Nevertheless, Democrat Angie Homola is in a good position over longtime Island County Commissioner Mac McDowell. After a count Wednesday, Homola held onto her lead with just 58 votes over her Republican rival. The count is 19,174 to 19,116, though the auditor’s office planned to count at least 200 more ballots after press time Friday.

Because the final count will likely be within one-quarter of 1 percent, the county will have to do a laborious hand recount of all 40,000 or so ballots, according to Island County Auditor Sheilah Crider.

“Every single ballot will have to be looked at and processed by a team of two,” she said.

Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton, is hanging onto her lead over Democrat Tim Knue in the race for the District 10 legislative seat. The gap between the candidates’ vote totals is at 0.7 percent, which mean there probably won’t be a recount.

Under state law, a machine recount is mandated if the vote count is

within 0.5 percent and the gap is less than 2,000 votes. A hand count is required if it’s less than 0.25 percent.

Crider said the recount in the commissioner race will occur after the county’s certification of the election on Nov. 25. She expects it would take between two-and-a-half to four days if everything goes alright.

“If we’re off by just one ballot, we will have to start the process all over again,” she said.

Crider said a recount shouldn’t change the outcome except for the “problem ballots” in which a judgement must be made or with ballots that had stray marks.

At this point in vote counting, Crider said the process has slowed since the office is dealing with about 200 problem ballots, though they continue to receive stragglers that were mistakenly turned in to other counties. They received 15 new ballots Thursday and 10 Friday.

In the other commissioner race, Democrat Helen Price Johnson maintains a comfortable lead over Commissioner Phil Bakke, with 20,316 to 18,530. Since Bakke was appointed to the office, Price

Johnson will be sworn in after certification Nov. 25.

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