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Will County Chair race end up in a recount?

Nearly 1,600 votes won’t be counted due to missing or invalid signatures

CLARK COUNTY — Voters whose ballots hadn’t been counted due to missing or invalid signatures had until 5 p.m. on Monday to turn in an affidavit to the Clark County Elections Division in order to “cure” their ballot and have it counted.

County Auditor Greg Kimsey says they had slightly over 2,200 challenged ballots following the November general election. As of Monday afternoon Kimsey said they had 1,590 envelopes with signatures that were either missing, or couldn’t be verified.

All of this matters because the candidates for Clark County Chair have been out hunting down every possible vote, as that race remains too close to call. Numbers released Monday afternoon showed current District 4 Councilor Eileen Quiring, a republican, leading democrat challenger Eric Holt by 986 votes. That means Holt picked up 21 votes over totals released last week, but still remains 0.52 percent behind Quiring.

It wasn’t immediately clear on Monday how many more ballots could potentially remain to be counted. Holt would need to get within half a percentage point in order to trigger an automatic recount. By state law that would generally be a machine recount, but Kimsey says, “If there is a recount, we will go to a hand recount.”

The reason for that, Kimsey says, is that both recount methods take approximately the same amount of time. And since the initial count is done by machine, a hand recount allows for immediate comparison between the two methods.

“So if there’s any variance between the hand count and the machine count, we really hone in on that one precinct and then really determine why is there that variance,” says Kimsey.

The elections office says they expect the final unofficial vote count to be released by around 3:30 p.m. today. The vote would then be certified by the end of the business day. If a recount ends up being necessary, it could take some time.

“The sorting of the ballots would take about three or four full days,” says Kimsey, “and then the recount itself will take three, four, or possibly five days as well.”

Ballots are counted by precinct, but then sorted and stored in batches. Kimsey says they would need to be re-sorted by precinct, in order to compare the hand recount against the machine count precinct-by-precinct.

Kimsey says past recounts have shown small differences in vote totals, but it remains unlikely that Holt could make up the entire difference of nearly a thousand votes. Quiring says she remains optimistic that the race is over, and she will ultimately be the next Chair of Clark County.

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About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

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