Will WA’s 3rd Congressional District race trigger a recount with primary results too close to call?

Aug 9, 2022, 1:14 PM | Updated: Aug 17, 2022, 10:30 am
election recount...
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

As votes continue to be counted in the Washington state primary, some races remain incredibly close. With some coming down to only a couple hundred votes, the Secretary of State’s Office is getting ready for the possibility of doing a recount.

In Washington state, a mandatory recount for elections happens automatically when a race is within a 0.5% margin; a machine recount is done to double-check the number. Stuart Holmes, the Acting Director of Elections in the Secretary of State’s Office, said that the machines are usually highly accurate and take a very short amount of time for officials to call the race.

If a race is within a 0.25% margin, the recount needs to be done by hand, with elections officials sorting ballots based on candidate votes, which could take days.

Holmes said they were particularly looking at the 3rd House District race between Jaime Herrera Beutler and Joe Kent, in which Kent has recently overtaken Beutler for the second place slot and a chance to face Marie Gluesenkamp Perez in the general election in November.

Joe Kent surpasses Jaime Herrera Beutler in WA 3rd Congressional District’s tightly contested race

“So, right now, we are keeping a close eye here on congressional district three,” Holmes said. “We also have a fairly tight race in legislative district 47 here at the state level. There’s a couple of county contests that are pretty close, we’re keeping an eye on one in Benton and one in Pierce County.”

Currently, only 960 votes separate Beutler and Kent, less than half a percent, but Kent has made huge gains since the initial primary results were announced Aug. 2 and could increase his lead as more votes come in. Only 61 votes separate the two democratic candidates in the state senate legislative district 47 race.

Any candidate or registered voter can request a recount in any election, even if it does not meet the half a percent threshold that makes it mandatory. They do have to pay the cost of running the recount though, with 25 cents per ballot in a hand recount and 15 cents per ballot in a machine recount.

If a recount election does happen though, it is unlikely that anything would change.

“There have been in the past times where there’s a vote here or a vote there, but it’s within a very small margin in which vote totals we will change it all. Probably the most notable recount that changed, the outcome was back all the way in 2004, since that time, I’m not aware of a recount of any large margin that has overturned the result of an election.”

In the 2004 gubernatorial election, Republican candidate and later Washington State Senator Dino Rossi was declared the winner of the election after both an initial automated count and the automated recount. It wasn’t until the manual recount that Democrat Christine Gregoire was declared the winner by a margin of 129 votes.

We will have to wait to see if a recount is deemed necessary, and it won’t be until after the initial certification of the election by the Secretary of State August 19 that a recount is called for in any of the election races.

“We would call for that recount on August 19, when the Secretary of State certifies the results of the primary. We would certify the results of the primary and simultaneously request that any necessary races be recounted.”

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Will WA’s 3rd Congressional District race trigger a recount with primary results too close to call?