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How a vote recount works in Washington state

Counting ballots in Nov. 2019. (King County Elections)

With the Sawant-Orion District 3 Seattle City Council race so close, many are asking about a recount.

Check the latest election results

King County Elections said that a mandatory recount isn’t triggered until certification, which isn’t until Nov. 26th. In that time, signature challenges are fixed, votes are counted, and margins typically exceed the threshold.

What is that threshold?

For a machine recount, according to state law, the spread needs to be fewer than 2,000 votes and also less than 1/2 of 1% of the total number of votes cast for both candidates.

For a hand recount, according to state law, there must be less than 150 votes and also fewer than 1/4 of 1% of the total number of votes cast for both candidates.

That said, there are recounts that can be made even if the vote spread doesn’t meet the thresholds.

According to state law:

An application for a recount of the votes cast must be filed with the elections officer with whom filings are made for the jurisdiction. For example, candidates for offices that encompass multiple counties file with the Secretary of State. The application must be filed within three business days after certification.

An officer of a political party or any person for whom votes were cast at any election may file a written application for a recount of the votes or a portion of the votes cast at that election for all candidates for election to that office.

Any group of five or more registered voters may file a written application for a recount of the votes or a portion of the votes cast upon any question or issue.

Any qualified individual or group of registered voters requesting a recount is required to, at the time of submitting the application for a recount, submit a deposit, by cash or certified check, to the county canvassing board or the Secretary of State as follows:

–For a machine recount – fifteen cents for each ballot cast in the jurisdiction or portion of the jurisdiction for which the recount is requested.

–For a manual recount – twenty-five cents for each ballot cast in the jurisdiction or portion of the jurisdiction for which the recount is requested.

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