Eric Holt’s comeback fell short of triggering a recount in the hotly contested race
CLARK COUNTY — Three weeks after the election, the lone race left undecided has finally ended.
“Probably the longest three weeks of my life,” said Eileen Quiring to ClarkCountyToday.com after learning that the race for Clark County Chair had been certified with her ahead by .52 percent, enough to keep from triggering a recount.
Quiring’s democratic challenger, Eric Holt, posted a video on his Facebook page conceding the race, thanking his supporters, and noting his narrow loss means the county remains highly politically divided.
“I think that shows that, in Clark County, there’s no mandate for certain aspirations or political ideals,” Holt said. “That it’s for the voice of the people that needs to be heard, and it’s important that we keep this council honest and we hold their feet to the fire for the next four years, and that’s what we’ll be working on.”
Holt also indicated that he would likely seek the chair seat again in 2022.
“Onward to 2022!” Holt said. “We have a lot of work ahead if us if we want to preserve the quality of life in Clark county from those special interests who want to pave it over.”
“He was a worthy opponent,” Quiring said of Holt. “Unfortunately someone who’s not been in a position before — you can say all kinds of things that you’re going to do, but once you get into office it’s a little bit harder to do some of those things.”
Quiring said she was amazed and humbled by the number of people who showed up over the past ten days to help seek out voters whose ballots hadn’t been opened due to missing or invalid signatures. She says eighty people showed up to her house one Saturday to help knock on doors and talk to voters.
“It humbled me, but I know at the same time it’s not just about me. It’s about the same philosophy,” says Quiring. “And so I’m the person that’s going to carry that out, but they were the ones that helped me get there.”
Ultimately around 600 of the ballots that had been challenged due to signature issues were “cured” and counted, but around 1,600 votes ended up having to be thrown out.
In the initial vote count, Holt held a lead of more than 2,000 votes. But subsequent counts of ballots that came in closer to election day showed Quiring quickly overtaking Holt. However, a comfortable lead narrowed in recent weeks, possibly due to a higher-than-usual number of people who marked their ballots online. The county allows people who’ve lost a ballot, too late to have a new one mailed to them, to mark their ballot online via a one-time-use system. Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey says they had three to four times more of those kinds of votes than in a normal election, and those votes seemed to heavily favor the democrat.
Despite how close things had gotten, Quiring says she always believed even a recount wouldn’t have changed the ultimate outcome of the election.
“He (Holt) was working for a recount, and I was working to not have a recount,” she says. “Because I have to deal with the budget, and I don’t want the auditor’s office to have to come to us and say ‘oh, well we had to do a recount and so we need another $40-50,000.'”
While a race that is within 2,000 votes and half a percentage point in Washington State triggers an automatic machine recount, Kimsey says they would have done a hand recount. While they can cost more, the results would be more accurate, and can tell if a machine in a particular precinct might be to blame for any voting miscounts.
The election of Quiring to the Council Chair seat will mean her current District 4 seat will be vacant in January. The county GOP’s Central Committee will go through a process of nominating candidates to fill Quiring’s seat, and ultimately recommend three names.
“And then of course the council will interview and then vote on the person that we place in that seat,” says Quiring. She would not say who she believes the GOP might nominate.
Statewide, voter turnout in the general election was 71 percent. Clark County finished at 69.51 voter turnout, with 196,685 total ballots counted, out of a total of 282,976 registered voters in the county.