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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Peninsula Daily News

State mulls ways to speed ballot counts By Sean Collins Walsh The Seattle Times

For elections officials in many states, the 2010 races are just about history. But in Washington, ballot counting will continue for weeks. In most races around the state, vote margins have grown enough that candidates either have conceded or declared victory. But ballots are still coming in, and many officials expect to continue tabulating up to the Nov. 23 certification deadline.

The delay? So what’s taking so long? When all Washington’s counties except Pierce County moved to voting primarily by mail recently, officials expected ballot sorting to take longer, a necessary

evil to ensure accuracy. But now, Secretary of State Sam Reed and others are questioning whether there are ways to speed up the process without sacrificing election integrity. Oregon’s vote-by-mail system requires that ballots reach elections officials by Election Day to be counted. In Washington, the first Tuesday in November is the postmark deadline, meaning a large number of ballots arrive during the ensuing week. Reed said he supports a switch to the Oregon system, calling the postmark deadline “antiquated.” “We would get a more meaningful result on election night,” he said. “More significantly, virtually all of the ballots would be counted by Friday.” However the tabulating of ballots, once received, is difficult to speed up, elec-

State Supreme Court race remains tight The Associated Press

OLYMPIA — The state Supreme Court race remains too close to call after four days of ballotcounting. Justice Richard Sanders had collected 50.35 percent of the vote (813,959) as of Saturday in his bid for a fourth term, to 49.65 percent (802,570) for his challenger, Bainbridge Island attorney Charlie Wiggins. Hundreds of thousands

of ballots remain to be counted — many of them in populous King County, where Wiggins is winning. Sanders came under fire late in the campaign for insisting at a court meeting that racial bias plays no significant role in the criminal justice system. He said he has nothing to apologize for and is proud of his record in standing up for the state Constitution and protecting individual liberties.

State election turnout may top 70 percent The Associated Press

OLYMPIA — Washington elections officials said a late surge in ballots will likely push the turnout for Tuesday’s election to 70 percent or higher.

Secretary of State Sam Reed had predicted 66 percent of Washington’s voters would mail in, drop off and cast ballots. The record for a midterm election is 72 percent, set in 1970.

Soroptomists honor Sequim high students Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM — Soroptimist International of Sequim recently presented Girl of the Month Awards to Sequim High School seniors Sara Hankins for October and Alice Hastings for November. Students are selected for academic excellence, along with consideration of community involvement, athletic achievements and citizenship. Hankins is student body president and senior student representative to the Sequim High School Band. She is also involved in Women in Networks, International Club, Future Busi-

ness Leaders of America and the National Honor Society. In her spare time, she volunteers at the middle school tutoring students, plays volleyball and works at Tarcisio’s Restaurant. She is the daughter of Mark and Nor Hankins. Hastings is student body vice president, a member of Future Business Leaders of America, plays piano and guitar, and loves tennis. Her dream is to become a professor. Her interests are art history and literature. She is the daughter of Michael and Martha Hastings.

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the ballots.” Before Election Day, officials can preprocess ballots by verifying signatures — but cannot begin to tabulate results. For larger counties, this means election-night results primarily represent votes that arrive before Tuesday. Then the waves of mailed ballots arriving Wednesday and Thursday create a bottleneck in vote processing.

Next Peninsula ballot count BALLOT COUNTS AFFECTING North Olympic Peninsula races will continue this week. ■  Clallam County, which had 6,549 ballots outstanding as of Friday, will tabulate 3,980 ballots by 4:30 p.m. Monday, with the next count either on Tuesday or Wednesday, Auditor Patty Rosand said. ■  Jefferson County tions officials said. “We have to verify every single signature, and then there’s a team of individuals who have to remove the secrecy envelopes from the regular envelopes, and then we take out the ballot from the envelopes, and then we

will count 350 outstanding ballots at about noon Wednesday. ■  The next tabulation in Grays Harbor, a portion of which is in the 24th District, will be by 5 p.m. Wednesday. About 4,000 ballots remain to be counted in that county. Peninsula Daily News

Vote earlier

have to look at the ballots, and then we can tabulate,” said Carolyn Weikel, the Snohomish County auditor. “And all throughout this process, there are steps and procedures to ensure the integrity, the transparency and also the security of

The best way to get Election Night results that more accurately represent the final outcome is to persuade voters to cast their ballots earlier, said Kim van Ekstrom, spokeswoman for King County Elections. In 2004, ballot-counting discrepancies in King County caused bitter controversy over Gov. Chris Gregoire’s 129-vote victory

over Republican Dino Rossi, who ran and lost in this fall’s U.S. Senate race. After that election, many changes were made in Washington’s electoral system, and King County has been particularly careful to avoid errors, Reed said. King County now computer scans all incoming ballots to ensure every one gets counted, van Ekstrom said. The scanners allow the county to decrease human involvement in some steps, such as signature recognition. They set aside ballots if they find errors or have trouble deciphering them. Then they are processed by hand. Although the county’s large population slows its results, Reed said scanners are time savers and using them in more counties could speed up statewide results.

McEntire concedes race for District 24 to Tharinger Republicans are ahead in Clallam but trail in district By Paul Gottlieb

Peninsula Daily News

Also . . .

■ Democrats likely to Republican Jim retain control of state McEntire conceded the Legislature/A5 race for the 24th District Position 2 state House seat to Steve Tharinger for state representative has on Saturday night after not enjoyed the success we his opponent widened had hoped for,” said McEnhis lead in Friday’s vote tire, one of three Port of Port Angeles commissioners. count districtwide. “I am very honored to Both Republicans in the two races for the 24th have enjoyed the trust and District — who lead in confidence of so many of the their home county of good people of the Olympic Clallam but are trailing Peninsula,” he continued. “I wish Commissioner in Jefferson and Grays Harbor counties — have Steve Tharinger the very now conceded to their best as he prepares to represent all of us in the 24th Democratic opponents. Republican Dan Gase District.” Tharinger and McEntire, of Port Angeles conceded Thursday to incumbent both of Sequim, had their Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, sights set on the seat long D-Sequim, who had held by retiring political declared victory Tuesday powerhouse Lynn Kessler, a after the first ballots Hoquiam Democrat. Districtwide as of Friday, were counted in the genTharinger led by 2,426 eral election race. Tharinger, who is also votes. Tharinger had 27,589 a Clallam County com- votes, or 52.30 percent, to missioner, declined to McEntire’s 25,163, or 47.70 declare himself the win- percent. That’s up from Tharingner of the race Friday er’s 1,321-vote lead after after he widened his lead Wednesday’s count. by more than 1,000 votes districtwide in counts of McEntire leads Clallam outstanding ballots in the district that covers In Clallam County, Clallam and Jefferson McEntire leads Tharinger counties and includes a with 13,976 votes, or 53 portion of Grays Harbor percent, to Tharinger’s County. 12,578 votes, or 47.69 perTharinger said Satur- cent. day night he had not But Tharinger carried received notice of McEn- Jefferson County — amasstire’s concession. ing 10,074 votes, or 61.23 “It would be awkward percent, to McEntire’s 6,380 for me to comment since votes, or 38.77 percent — I have not heard from and by Friday had won a the candidate himself,” 130-vote lead in Grays HarTharinger said. bor County, getting 4,937 McEntire, 60, con- votes, or 50.67 percent, to gratulated Tharinger, 61, McEntire’s 4,807 votes, or in an e-mail to the Penin- 49.33 percent. sula Daily News. Tharinger attributed the “After Friday’s ballot tepid support he received in counting in Clallam, his home county of Clallam Grays Harbor, and Jef- to a general trend in the to vote ferson Counties, it is now electorate especially apparent that our race Republican,

Olympic Rehabilitation of Sequim

Steve Tharinger Wins District 24 race

Jim McEntire Concedes election

among seniors. “Part of that was the misrepresentation of the health care issue,” Tharinger said. “That’s one reason a lot of seniors punched ‘R’ on the ballot. “That’s sort of interesting because they do have a government health care program.”

Thursday after pondering Wednesday’s count of ballots, which had Van De Wege ahead districtwide 55 percent to 45 percent. “I’m glad he came around and realized the numbers were not going to go in his favor,” Van De Wege said Friday. “He took positions on a lot of issues that I think didn’t align with the district, and it made my job somewhat easier because of that.” Ballots were not counted Thursday anywhere in the district.

Van De Wege Van De Wege, 36, also widened his lead over Gase, 57, in Friday’s count. Districtwide, Van De Wege, a Clallam County Fire District 3 firefighterparamedic, had 29,861 votes, or 56.14 percent. Gase, a real estate managing broker, had 23,329 votes, or 43.86 percent, districtwide. Like Tharinger, Van De Wege swept Jefferson County, gaining 11,102 votes, or 66.06 percent, compared with Gase’s 5,658 votes, or 33.94 percent. He also carried Grays Harbor County, winning 5,645 votes, or 57.48 percent, to Gase’s 4,175 votes, or 42.52 percent.

Next counts

In Clallam County, 3,980 ballots are to be tabulated by 4:30 p.m. Monday, with about 2,000 more ballots to be counted Tuesday or Wednesday, Auditor Patty Rosand said Friday. Jefferson County has 350 more ballots to count. The next Jefferson count will be at about noon Wednesday. Grays Harbor County has 4,000 ballots to count, though it’s not known how many were filled out by Gase takes Clallam 24th District voters. The next count in Grays But, like McEntire, Gase was ahead of his Demo- Harbor is by 5 p.m. Wednescratic opponent in Clallam day. ________ County, with 13,496 votes, or 50.55 percent, to Van De Senior Writer Paul Gottlieb can Wege’s 13,204 votes, or be reached at 360-417-3536 or at 49.45 percent. paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews. Gase conceded the race com.

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