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Recounts for two certified congressional races confirm Democrat victories

OLYMPIA, Wash., December 16, 2022—Last week, the Office of the Secretary of State received requests to recount certified results for two of Washington’s congressional races. In the Third Congressional District, the Joe Kent for Congress campaign requested a machine recount of all votes cast for the office of U.S. Representative. In the Ninth Congressional District, candidate Doug Basler asked for manual recounts of two precincts.

“Recounts for various federal, state, and local offices and initiatives are nothing new,” said Secretary of State Steve Hobbs. “It is important to understand the rules that govern the recount process and the circumstances that allow for one.”

Per state law (RCW 29A.64), a recount is required in a general election if the margin of victory is less than one-half of 1% and fewer than 2,000 votes. If the margin of victory is at least one-half of 1% or 2,000 votes or more, a request for a recount may be made to the Office of the Secretary of State, at the expense of the requester.

In the results Secretary Hobbs certified on Wednesday, December 8, for the Third Congressional District, Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez defeated Kent, a Republican, in the general election 50.14% (160,314 votes) to 49.31% (157,685) — a difference of 0.83% (2,629). Write-in candidates garnered 0.55% of the vote (1,760). In the Ninth Congressional District, Democrat Adam Smith defeated Basler, a Republican, 171,746 votes (71.61%) to 67,631 (28.2%), a difference of 43.41%.

Neither margin met the thresholds for automatic recounts set in state law.

“We are confident our county election officials and workers throughout the Third and Ninth Districts, and across the state, administered an accurate and reliable election for all Washingtonians,” Hobbs said. “We respect any candidate’s right to request a recount, and we will proceed and support the counties accordingly. We ask that all concerned parties be patient as they await the recounted results.”

Washington Third and Nineth Congressional Districts Recount Status

The full machine recount for the Third Congressional District will involve elections offices in the district’s seven counties. For a machine recount, county-accepted ballots without recorded votes in the race being recounted are re-examined for markings that should be counted as a vote. Washington’s Third Congressional District includes Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, Pacific, Skamania and Wahkiakum counties and a portion of Thurston County.

In the most populated of the seven districts, the Clark County Canvassing Board met at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13, to schedule the machine recount. The machine recount began at 1 p.m. Thursday, December 15 and the Canvassing Board will reconvene at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, December 20, to certify the results. The unofficial recount of undervotes resulted in a net gain of six votes for Democrat Congresswoman-elect Marie Gluesenkamp Perez and two votes for Republican Joe Kent, The Columbian reports.

Cowlitz County Canvassing Board certified its machine recount on December 13, with a net gain of one vote for both Kent and Perez. No changes to vote counts were reported by the auditors of Pacific and Wahkiakum counties.

The Thurston County Canvassing Board met today to certify the results of its recount that resulted in a net gain of one vote for Joe Kent and reducing the total undervotes by 1.

congressional recount
Snapshot of certified recount results from Thurston County Canvassing Board meeting on December 16, 2022.

The Skamania County Auditor will be the last to conduct its requested candidate machine recount, which will begin December 20 at 9:00 a.m. The Skamania County Canvassing Board will meet on December 21 at 9:00 a.m. to certify the recount results. The certification of Lewis County’s recount is expected near the same date.

The requested full Third District recount required a deposit of $48,589.05, calculated by multiplying the 323,927 ballots cast in the jurisdiction – including those that did not contain a recorded vote for this race – by $0.15, as required by state law. The entire cost of the recount will be paid by the Kent’s campaign.

The Ninth District recount will hand-count all ballots cast in two King County precincts – FED 30-3091 and SEA 37-1565. The partial Ninth District manual recount required a deposit of $179.25 – $0.25 for each of the 717 ballots cast in the precincts to be recounted. Any remaining costs of conducting a recount must be paid by the requester after the final certification.

On Thursday, December 15, the King County Canvassing Board certified no changes to the hand recount of the two requested precincts in the Nineth Congressional District confirming the win for Democrat Adam Smith.

Historical Trends of Washington Election Recounts

Historically, Washington’s recounts have confirmed the accuracy and trustworthiness of the state’s elections process. In 125 recounts of General Election results from 2007 to 2021, the outcome only changed three times, all in municipal elections where the margin in initial results was three votes or less. More information about recounts can be found on the Secretary of State’s Elections page.

Since 2004 — the year Washington saw the closest governor’s race in the nation’s history — there have been more than 500 election law and rule changes to improve Washington’s elections and deliver results voters can believe in. For example:

  • Electronic voting devices are required to have a voter-verified paper audit trail.
  • Ballot-tallying equipment is certified by an independent testing lab approved by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission before it can be used in Washington state.
  • County auditors must account for every ballot received. This reconciliation must be presented to the county canvassing board when the election is certified and made available to the public. If there is a discrepancy, the county auditor must provide an explanation.
  •  State Patrol signature-verification training is required by election staff comparing ballot signatures.
  • A random check of ballot-tabulation equipment is performed upon mutual agreement of the political party observers or at the discretion of the county auditor. A manual count is compared to the tabulated results to verify the accuracy of the equipment.
  • County election procedures are reviewed by the Secretary of State. The auditor or county canvassing board must take corrective action for any issues uncovered during the review. The Secretary of State must verify that corrective action was taken.
  • Several increases in penalties for election-related fraud.

More information is available at sos.wa.gov/elections/election-security.aspx

Content Source: Office of Secretary of State press release with addition of recount results by the Lynnwood Times

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