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Auditor’s Office rejects hundreds of primary election ballots

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

“It was a very somber mood in that meeting,” said Elections Supervisor Michele Reagan, of the Tuesday Canvas Board meeting.

In Washington, 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 Thursday, two of the county’s races are incredibly close.

In the race for county treasurer, former Deputy Treasurer Wanda Grone is just 12 votes ahead of Escrow Manager Christa Canell for the second position.

Incumbent Treasurer Ana Maria Nuñez took the first slot of that race, claiming 45 percent of the vote.

For the Island County District 3 commissioner seat, one Democrat and four Republicans ran to represent North Whidbey and Camano Island.

Democrat Karla Jacks took the lead with 48 percent of the vote. Rick Hannold trails in second at 15 percent, just 47 votes away from the number three finisher Aubrey Vaughan, who is currently serving as interim commissioner.

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

The Canvas Board, which oversees the vote counts, is comprised of the chair person of the Island County commissioners, and a representative from both the prosecutor’s office and auditor’s office.

“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 Canvas Board member Commissioner Jill 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.”

While the rejected ballots were not reflected in the county’s most recent tally online, more than 100 votes could still affect the election’s close races.

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

Lastly, Reagan said that between 50-60 valid ballots have been received since the county’s most recent count which will be added to the final, certified count Aug. 19.

These totals will be announced at the Canvas Board meeting 10 a.m. Tuesday and posted online shortly thereafter.

Elections information and results can be found at www.wei.sos.wa.gov/county/island/en/Elections.

 

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