Republicans may ask for new count of all county votes

By Janice Podsada
Everett Herald Writer


EVERETT, WA-- The state's Republican Party next week may ask for an official recount of all ballots cast in the Snohomish County general election.

Pencil problems

Absentee ballots are more likely to be incorrectly marked because voters fill them out at home using something other than a No. 2 pencil or pen.
Snohomish County uses an infrared ballot scanner that detects the presence of graphite, which is present in varying amounts in pencils. Pen marks, which do not contain graphite, would not be detected, nor would marks made by pencils other than No 2's.

King County uses an optical scanner that detects light and dark - pen marks and any type of pencil.

"I've never seen an election this screwed up," state Republican Party Chair Chris Vance said Friday.

At issue are votes that were not counted because voters used a pen or a non-standard pencil to mark their ballots, which were missed by the county's inferior ballot-reading machines, Vance said.

"Snohomish County has machines that don't read Bic pens," he said.

The county's infrared ballot scanners only detect pencil marks. Since that's the case, Vance claimed that thousands of votes throughout the county might have gone uncounted.

In response, Snohomish County Auditor Bob Terwilliger said, "I'll respond to whatever they want to do. As far as I'm concerned we're done."

Frauna Hoglund, Erv Hoglund's wife, said the Snohomish County Republican Party supports the total recount.

"It might as well be Florida except for the weather," Frauna said.

The possibility of a countywide recount by the auditor's office was raised Friday by Republican officials after they requested that 5,587 absentee ballots in the 1st and 38th Legislative Districts be counted again.

Though it didn't change the result of the two races, Friday's recount did indeed reveal that some votes had not been recorded.

Recount numbers

Jeanne Edwards, Democrat for the 1st Legislative District Results, gained 382 votes after Friday's recount vote, raising her vote total from 8,852 to 9,234 votes.
Her opponent, Republican Leo Van Hollebeke, gained 295, raising his total to 8,936 from 8,641 from the general election.

For the 38th District, Democrat John McCoy gained 288 votes, raising his total to 9,517 from 9,229.

His opponent Republican Erv Hoglund, gained 238 votes, raising his total from 8,338 to 8,576.

Frauna Hoglund said a total recount "might not change the outcome, but voters should have their vote recorded."

In the 1st District, Democratic Rep. Jeanne Edwards retained her win over Republican Leo Van Hollebeke for Position 2.

In the 38th District, John McCoy retained his win over Republican Erv Hoglund for Position 1.

Republicans called for a recount after the percentage of undervotes -- ballot races that are left unmarked -- on absentee ballots in some precincts was higher than ballots marked at the polls.

Friday's recount was limited to 17 of the 1st District's 114 precincts and 11 of the 38th District's 122 precincts.

Statistically, there should be no difference in those percentages -- whether ballots were cast at home or at the polls, elections officials said.

Friday, the auditor's office used their most sensitive optical scanners to record votes that may have not been read the first time through the scanners because the pencil marks were too light.

Terwilliger said his office would ask the manufacturers of county's infrared scanners to convert them to optical scanners, able to read any pen or pencil mark.

"We hope to have that available by next year's primary and general election," he said.


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