Where recall vote now stands with Kshama Sawant seizing narrow lead in latest tally

Dec 10, 2021, 5:43 AM | Updated: 4:06 pm
Recall Sawant vote...
Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

UPDATE: Friday’s vote count shows Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant extending her lead by 17 votes. The recall effort is trailing –with the two sides 249 votes apart.


A vote to recall Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant is currently failing by 232 votes following Friday’s tally. So, with razor thin margins and the number of ballots left to count dwindling, where do things stand now?

Sawant recall could see District 3 voters buried in ballots over next two years

According to King County Elections, a total of 41,364 ballots were turned in by District 3 voters, 40,629 of which have been counted as of Thursday evening. That number could be also subject to change as ballots postmarked by the Tuesday deadline trickle in by mail. Even so, “that really is most of it,” King County Elections tells KIRO Radio.

Of the estimated 735 uncounted ballots, at least 591 need to have a signature challenge resolved. That’s down from 656 signature challenges leading into Thursday, with KCE resolving an average of between 20 to 60 a day. Although generally ballots with signature issues tend to occur among younger — and therefore more progressive — voting demographics, both sides of the recall will likely be leading efforts to cure challenged ballots in the days ahead, with an outside chance the current margin could still be swung by these outstanding votes.

Those wishing to cure their challenged ballot have until 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 16. You can check on the status of your ballot to see whether it was challenged at this link.

As has become a routine for elections involving the eight-year councilmember, Sawant’s lead was fueled by a late surge of ballots, strengthened by increasing percentages as the week went on. On Wednesday’s second tally, she took in over 62% of the nearly 7,000 ballots counted on that day, before taking over 68% in Thursday’s tally to establish her first lead. That’s despite the recall’s campaign manager Henry Bridger stating his belief on Tuesday night that he was not concerned about the potential for a late-week turnaround for Sawant, and that “the initial results are the sentiment of the district.”

Gee & Ursula: Thin margins in Sawant recall show Seattleites have ‘had enough’

Conversely, Sawant expressed confidence ahead of the surge, noting how “in every one of our elections, there has been a dramatic swing after election night in our direction.” She plans to hold a press conference at 10:30 a.m. on Friday to comment on what her campaign is already calling her apparent victory.

Regardless of how those final few hundred votes shake out, the voter turnout in District 3 for the recall will end up being a surprise to many, having crested 53% after the latest tally. That level of participation is a rarity for a December special election, nearly putting the recall on par with November’s general election District 3 turnout of 55%. In the last District 3 council vote in 2019 — which Sawant won by a four percentage point margin — turnout sat around 59%.

Just over 44,000 District 3 residents voted in that 2019 council election. In addition to the over 41,000 ballots turned in for the December 2021 recall, turnout in the district continues to be among the highest of any area within Seattle.

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Where recall vote now stands with Kshama Sawant seizing narrow lead in latest tally