County certifies 2017 election

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Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin Herald Grant County officials verify ballots in the 2017 election. Only one contest, for Moses Lake School Board Position No. 4, was close enough to warrant a recount.

EPHRATA — The slow and deliberate work of certifying the recent general election in Grant County is done.

And only one race — the tightly contested race for position 4 in the Moses Lake School District between Eliott Goodrich and Kevin Donovan — is going to a recount.

Goodrich maintains a 17-vote lead over Donovan, with 50.15 percent of the total votes cast in the race.

A machine recount is required under Washington law if the difference between the top two candidates is less than 2,000 votes and one-half of 1 percent of total votes cast — or 28 votes. The Goodrich-Donovan race, however, does not qualify for an automatic hand recount, which requires the difference between the candidates to be 150 votes and one-quarter of 1 percent — or 14 votes.

“I’ve never done a machine recount, only hand counts,” said Trisha Gibb, Grant County’s election administrator. “The results have never changed.”

The recount in the Moses Lake School Board race will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 12, at the Grant County Courthouse in Ephrata.

“Hopefully, it won’t take all day,” Gibb said.

The Grant County Auditor’s office last conducted a hand recount earlier this year is response to concerns about the close results of a February school construction bond, also run by the Moses Lake School District.

The bond passed by three votes. The certification of the election is currently being challenged in a state appeals court.

On Monday, the county officials who certify the election — County Commission Chair Cindy Carter, County Attorney Jim Mitchell, and County Auditor Michelle Jaderlund — examined signatures on some ballots, comparing them with printouts of signatures on file. Two of the three officials had to agree on a signature match in order for the ballot to be counted.

And most were not.

“Look, she’s 94, and it looks like someone signed for her,” Jaderlund said as she passed one ballot on after initialing it as invalid.

Most of these voters were contacted by mail, and then called if they also gave phone numbers, Gibb said. Many never responded.

Gibb said ballots thrown out because the signatures aren’t valid or they are postmarked too late are never opened and will never be counted before they are buried in the county landfill.

“Because there was nothing federal on these ballots, I have to keep them for 60 days, and then they will be buried in the dump,” Gibb said. “For federal elections, I have to keep those 22 months.”

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached via email at countygvt@columbiabasinherald.com.

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