The Island County Elections Office will conduct two different kinds of recounts over the next week.
A hand recount of ballots in the race for Island County assessor started Monday and will wrap up Friday. A machine recount of votes in a Legislative District 10 race is scheduled for Dec. 12 and will take the day to complete, the Island County Auditor’s Office reported.
Only 11 votes separate the two candidates for county assessor. Michele Reagan, elections supervisor, said it’s the closest race she remembers in 18 years with the county.
Kelly Mauck, the Republican candidate, is ahead with 19,990 votes and T.J. Kubisiak, who ran unaffiliated, has 19,979.
State law requires that a hand recount be conducted when a race that is not statewide has a difference of fewer than 150 votes and also less than a 0.25% difference between the votes counted for the two candidates.
Reagan explained that the elections staff first has to separate the 43,368 ballots cast in the election by precinct before counting the votes in the race. She said that the final count might be slightly different than the current count. In the past, recounts in the county have varied by one or two votes.
“Sometimes the eye picks up things that a scanner cannot,” she said.
The digital scan system, for example, might not count a vote if a candidate’s name is circled — which still counts as a vote under state law — but a person looking at the ballot may be more likely to count it.
The hand recount is expected to be completed and certified by the Canvassing Board at 4 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9.
In the race for state representative Position 1 in District 10, the two candidates are just 211 votes apart, or a difference of 0.28%. Clyde Shavers, a Democrat from Oak Harbor, has 37,375 votes and Greg Gilday, a Republican from Camano Island, has 37,164.
The state law also requires that a machine recount be conducted when a race that is not statewide has a difference of fewer than 2,000 votes and also less than a 0.50% difference between the votes counted for the two candidates. Island, Skagit and Snohomish counties will have machine recounts in District 10, which covers Island County and parts of the other two counties.
Reagan explained that ballots are electronically reviewed during the machine recount process.
Reagan said Island County voter participation tends to be high and this year was no exception. A long list of federal, state and local candidates — as well as a couple of ballot measures in Oak Harbor — apparently garnered a lot of interest among Island County voters. A total of 70.78% of registered voters in the county participated in the election, which is significantly ahead of the statewide rate of 64.59%.
More than ever, the mantra that “every vote counts” is evident in this year’s close results.
“This is the embodiment of exactly that,” Reagan said.