Vote Counting Slows As Wash. Counties Deal With Problem Ballots

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OLYMPIA, Wash. – Democrat Jay Inslee says he has a 95-percent chance of ultimately winning Washington’s race for governor. That’s based on an internal statistical analysis his campaign released Friday. But with hundreds of thousands of ballots still uncounted, Republican Rob McKenna is digging in for the long haul. Meanwhile at county election offices the ballot counting is getting slower, not faster.

It’s surprisingly quiet at Thurston County Elections in Washington’s Capitol city. Most of the extra help is gone. That’s because the bulk of the ballots have already been counted.

What’s left are about 15,000 ballots that need a little extra attention.

“This becomes kind of a frustrating time for voters and candidates because it’s like 'why do you still have 15,000 ballots?'" says says Thurston County Election Manager Steve Homan.

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This rolling file cabinet at Thurston County Elections contains ballots with problems that need to be resolved. Photo by Austin Jenkins hide caption

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There are several reasons. The biggest problem: spoiled ballots.

“Spilled coffee on it at breakfast, or torn in the mailing process," Homan says. "Or if they’ve just changed their mind and changed the vote on the ballot before it gets to us.”

Then the vote counting machine can’t read the ballot. That’s when teams of two have to duplicate it. Time consuming.

Another common problem: the voter’s signature doesn’t match the one on file. When that happens the voter gets a letter in the mail and a chance to fix the problem.

On the Web:

Latest vote tally for Washington governor

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Thurston County Election Manager Steve Homan monitors the ballot sorting machine. Photo by Austin Jenkins hide caption

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Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network



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