Recount planned for Issaquah state Senate contest

November 30, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

The last undecided race to represent Issaquah in Olympia is headed for a recount.

State Sen. Randy Gordon trailed challenger Steve Litzow by more than 1,000 votes in the days after the Nov. 2 election. The gap between Democrat Gordon and Republican Litzow narrowed to 194 votes — or 0.32 percent — as the county tallied ballots.

Under state law, a machine recount is required if the difference between the candidates is less than 2,000 votes and also less than one-half of 1 percent of the total number of votes cast for both candidates.

King County Elections tallied 63,361 ballots in the race. The margin to trigger a machine recount in the race is about 315 votes.

The machine recount is scheduled to start Dec. 1.

Turnout reached 71.6 percent in the Nov. 2 election. King County Elections certified the election results Nov. 24.

The elections office predicted 68 percent turnout before the election.

King County received and processed 786,461 ballots — a record number since the county switched to the all-mail voting in February 2009.

Officials could not count almost 20,000 ballots, because the ballots arrived too late or the voter did not remedy a signature problem.

The county had to delay certification for a day due to inclement weather and hazardous road conditions.

King County Canvassing Board members met Nov. 22 to complete the canvassing process. Members had been scheduled to meet the next day to certify the election results, but icy conditions prompted county leaders to close many offices, including King County Elections.

The county Canvassing Board instead met Nov. 24 at election headquarters to sign off on the election results.

The board had been expected to order a recount in the 41st Legislative District race.

King County Council members appointed Bellevue attorney Gordon to the seat in January after then-Sen. Fred Jarrett resigned to serve as deputy King County executive. Litzow serves as a Mercer Island city councilman.

The contest is to fill Jarrett’s unexpired term. The eventual victor faces voters again in 2012.

Gordon and Litzow hope to represent the 41st District. The district includes Talus and other Cougar Mountain communities in Issaquah, plus Newcastle and rural King County.

Despite the national GOP tide, the election left the Issaquah in Olympia unchanged for the most part. Other incumbents in the 5th, 41st and 48th legislative districts cruised to re-election.

Statewide turnout beats pre-election estimates

Secretary of State Sam Reed praised the robust voter statewide turnout in the November election — the highest in a midterm election in four decades.

Elections offices in the 39 counties counted 2.56 million ballots out of 3.6 million registered voters — or 71.18 percent. Reed, the top elections official in the state, had predicted 66 percent turnout before the election.

The record for a midterm election is the 71.85 percent mark set in 1970. Turnout reached 64.55 in the last midterm election four years ago, and 56.35 percent in 2002.

“Our voters were clearly enthused and engaged by this midterm election, and that makes election officials very, very happy,” Reed said in a statement.

Reed and Gov. Chris Gregoire certify the state returns Dec. 2 at the Capitol.

“This turned out to be a ‘wave’ election nationally and both parties really contested Washington, both for the Senate and House seats and for legislative races,” Reed said.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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