The machine recount in the Grays Harbor County Commissioner, District 3 race was conducted Friday morning and Republican Keith Olson still holds a 10-vote lead over Democrat Al Smith in the contest to advance to the November general election, county Election Supervisor Katy Moore announced Friday.
Smith conceded the race on Tuesday and says he will not pay for a hand recount, which would have cost him 25 cents per ballot and required a $729 deposit. The challenge deadline was Wednesday.
That means Olson will face Cosmopolis Mayor Vickie Raines, who is running with no party preference, in the general election. Olson has led Smith since the first updated count of the primary votes. But the lead was so slim, a machine recount was mandated by law. According to County Auditor Vern Spatz, had the lead narrowed to eight votes, state law would have then required Friday’s recount to have been done by hand, a much more arduous process.
“Mr. Smith was in yesterday discussing the procedures used in the machine recount just past and chances of change if another, manual, recount was done,” Spatz wrote in an email Tuesday morning. “My impression when he departed was that he was satisfied with the procedures and was not going to request another recount.”
“I had questions with the way some of the ballots were counted but they answered all my questions and I feel that the election was handled fairly,” Smith said. “I’ve already conceded to Keith.”
The final tally was the end of a long week for the county Elections Office. On Tuesday, the canvassing board, made up of Chief Deputy Auditor Melinda Raihl, county Prosecutor Gerald Fuller and County Commissioner Wes Cormier, spent the morning going over 233 ballots up for review due to errors in signatures, late postmarks and other issues, eventually accepting only three of those to join 59 other late-arriving ballots in the final count. After that, Cosmopolis Mayor Raines officially won the three-way primary with 1,857 votes (33.1 percent) after final results were certified Tuesday. Democrat Smith, from the Wishkah Valley, trailed Olson 1,464 to 1,454 for second place.
Prior to Friday’s recount, Elections Department officials went over 175 more “under” ballots, which were not marked for the District 3 race. After those were confirmed as uncountable, the recount was held and about 20 minutes later, Moore announced the results.
“Who’d have ever thought,” joked Olson after the recount results were announced at 10 a.m. Friday morning. Olson and several of his supporters were on hand for Friday’s recount. The other two District 3 candidates were not. He looks forward to a couple of more months of campaigning, the Republican candidate said.
“So far, it has been fun,” he said of campaigning. “It’s been trying, but it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve met a lot of cool people.”
The defeat of Smith is a loss for Democrats, who have had a county commission candidate on the ballot for decades. Fellow Democrat, Commission President Frank Gordon, championed Smith’s candidacy and actively opposed Raines in the race.
The Daily World contributed to this report.