ELECTION 2022

Washington: What to expect on election night

Nov 3, 2022, 6:31 AM | Updated: 7:55 am
King County Elections drivers Dusty Gepner (L) and Christopher Mugwanya (R) collect ballots from a ...
King County Elections drivers Dusty Gepner (L) and Christopher Mugwanya (R) collect ballots from a ballot drop box outside Seattle Community College on November 3, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. From here the ballots will head to King County Elections headquarters in Renton, Washington where they will be processed. Washington state is on track to set a record for voter turnout this year. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

What to expect on election night in Washington state? A long wait.

If control of the U.S. House comes down to congressional races there, it could take days — or weeks — for the nation to know the outcome. Washington’s vote-by-mail system leads to some of the highest voter turnout in the nation, but is not a system that leads to fast results.

Two of the state’s 10 U.S. House seats have garnered national attention heading into November: the 8th district, where Democratic Rep. Kim Schrier faces Republican Matt Larkin; and the 3rd district, which became an open contest after the Republican incumbent, Jaime Herrera Beutler, was ousted by a candidate backed by former President Donald Trump.

The top race in Washington, however, is between Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, who is seeking a sixth term against Republican Tiffany Smiley, a first-time candidate.

In another key race, voters will decide whether to elect their first Democratic secretary of state in six decades or, instead, send a longtime county auditor to be the state’s first nonpartisan chief elections officer.

Republicans were shut out of the state’s “top two” primary in August, which sent current Democratic Secretary of State Steve Hobbs and nonpartisan Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson to the general election. Republican Rep. Brad Klippert won’t appear on the ballot but is mounting a write-in campaign backed by the state GOP.

All 98 seats in the state House are up for election, as are 25 of the 49 in the Senate, with several expected to be competitive.

Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:

ELECTION NIGHT

Polls close at 8 p.m. local time (11 p.m. ET).

HOW WASHINGTON VOTES

Washington is true blue when it comes to most offices — Joe Biden easily won the 2020 presidential election there, and Democrats control the Legislature and hold all statewide elected offices.

But Republicans run competitive campaigns across the state and hold sway in certain areas. The GOP occupies congressional seats east of the Cascades, and rural areas west of the mountains also lean conservative, adding competition to the two key congressional races there.

The Puget Sound area, especially King County — home to Seattle — is where most of the population is, and where Democrats dominate. For statewide Republican candidates to stay competitive, they have to limit their loss margins there.

Washington is a vote-by-mail state and voters are automatically sent a ballot. Once voters return their ballots, either by mail or in a drop box, they can confirm via a state-run website that it’s been received by the county auditor’s office, and where it is in the process.

Because a ballot only needs to be postmarked by Election Day, or dropped in a drop box by 8 p.m. election night, about half of the vote is outstanding at the end of the night, making it impossible to quickly determine the winner of close races.

Washington’s 39 counties all post their initial results after 8 p.m. Many counties do daily updates after that, but because of the number of steps involved in ballot verification — including sorting, signature verification and assessment of ballots for extraneous marks — the updates can feel painfully slow for candidates locked in close races and the media organizations covering them.

DECISION NOTES

AP will tabulate and declare winners in 113 contested elections in Washington, including one U.S. Senate seat, secretary of state and 10 U.S. House races.

Each county will post one report on election night and again on nights following Election Day. We will be tallying total write-in votes in the secretary of state’s race.

The AP may call a statewide or U.S. House race in which the margin between the top two candidates is 0.5% or less, if we determine the lead is too large for a recount to change the outcome.

The AP does not make projections and will only declare a winner when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidates to close the gap.

Should a candidate declare victory or offer a concession before the AP calls a race, we will cover newsworthy developments in our reporting. In doing so, we will make clear that the AP has not declared a winner and explain why.

The AP may call a statewide or U.S. House race in which the margin between the top two candidates is 0.5% or less, if we determine the lead is too large for a recount to change the outcome.

The AP will not call down-ballot races on election night if the margin between the top two candidates is less than 2% or if the leading candidate is within 2% of the 50% runoff threshold. AP will revisit those races later in the week to confirm there aren’t enough outstanding votes left to count that could change the outcome.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?

Q: WHAT DID WE LEARN FROM THE PRIMARY?

A: That the “top two” primary was not a guarantee to help Trump-targeted Republicans. The number of people on the ballot helped Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse — one of two members of Congress from the state who voted for impeachment — but did not save Herrera Beutler.

Q: HOW LONG DOES COUNTING USUALLY TAKE?

A: Counting is slow in Washington. In 2020, 18.3% of the total vote was not yet counted on election night. Totals didn’t reach 100% until 10 days after the election.

Because ballots only have to be postmarked by Election Day, it can take weeks to decide close races. Counties can keep counting up until Nov. 29, the day they certify results.

Q: WHAT ARE THE PITFALLS WITH EARLY RETURNS?

A: People who are in the lead on election night may ultimately lose once all the ballots are counted. Also, because ballots are still arriving at election offices days after Election Day, it’s difficult to know how many ballots are truly outstanding.

Q: WHAT HAPPENS AFTER TUESDAY?

A: Washington law provides for mandatory recounts if the gap between candidates is less than half of 1% and closer than 2,000 votes. In statewide races, a manual recount is mandatory if the margin is less than 1,000 votes and less then 0.25% of total votes cast for the top two. In other offices, manual recount is mandatory when margin is less than 150 votes or less than or equal to 0.25% of votes cast for the top two candidates.

___

Check out https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections to learn more about the issues and factors at play in the 2022 midterm elections.

Follow AP’s coverage of the elections at: https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections

Election 2022

lied...
Frank Sumrall

Shavers holds slim lead over Gilday in WA legislative race

Clyde Shavers, a Democrat running for a state legislative seat, has overcome controversy to maintain a lead over incumbent Greg Gilday.
20 days ago
elections...
L.B. Gilbert

Seattle initiative to implement ranked choice voting narrowly winning

With new ballot count numbers, the votes for changing the Seattle elections systems have started to narrowly edge out the votes against it.
22 days ago
Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, left, speaks to a crowd of supporters alongside her husband Dean Gluesenka...
MyNorthwest Staff

Pérez staves off Kent to win 3rd Congressional District seat

Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez has defeated Republican challenger Joe Kent in the U.S. District 3 House race.
25 days ago
election...
L.B. Gilbert

Election 2022: Latest Washington midterm election numbers

For up-to-date election results for some of the most impactful midterm races, check back regularly as votes continue to be counted.
25 days ago
election schrier...
MyNorthwest Staff

Rep. Kim Schrier claims 8th District, according to AP

Rep. Kim Schrier holds a lead over Republican challenger Matt Larkin in the race for the 8th congressional district.
27 days ago
Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson (Left), who is running as a nonpartisan, and incumbent Secreta...
MyNorthwest Staff

Hobbs secures WA Secretary of State, Anderson concedes

Democratic incumbent Steve Hobbs has defeated Independent Julie Anderson in the race for Secretary of State.
27 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Washington: What to expect on election night