Aberdeen mayor: Orr’s lead stays at eight votes, too close to call

Auditor has four votes left to count, but another 32 rejected ballots still circulating

On Nov. 7, initial votes for the 2023 General Election results refused to yield a clear picture of the prevailing candidate for the race many voters are watching the closest.

About 6,000 votes after that initial count, the image of Aberdeen’s next mayor is still hazy.

The most recent results from the Grays Harbor County Auditor’s Office show that Doug Orr leads the race by eight votes over Debi Pieraccini — the same margin he was left with after last Thursday’s count, when he bumped his lead up from the two-vote margin he held after the Nov. 7 count. Another 300 ballots have been counted for the mayor’s race since Nov. 9. Orr’s vote total so far is 1,356 (49.62%) compared to Pieraccini’s 1,348 (49.32%).

However, there is a major difference between the result of the Nov. 9 count and the Wednesday, Nov. 15 count.

Only four ballots are left to count across Grays Harbor County.

At least two of those ballots belong to voters from Ocean Shores, according to Grays Harbor County Auditor Joe Maclean.

But Orr’s eight-vote lead isn’t enough to award him the seat quite yet.

In a phone call Wednesday afternoon, Maclean explained that the four ballots he knows his office still needs to tabulate are not the only ones that might factor into the election results by certification day on Nov. 28.

As his office sifted through the roughly 16,000 ballots it received this month, a certain number arrived either without a signature, or the signature did not match the one on record. Those ballots were deemed “rejected.”

According to ballot status forms updated Nov. 14 by the Washington Secretary of State’s Office, 133 ballots in Grays Harbor county did not have the proper signature and were not counted. That includes 32 in Aberdeen, and 31 in Ocean Shores, where two races are separated by a handful of votes.

Voters with rejected ballots still have plenty of options to make their vote count. Maclean said the auditor’s office mailed signature update forms to the addresses of voters with mistake ballots. Voters can also go online to vote.wa.gov to fill out the form or visit the auditor’s office. Maclean said his office will call any voters who haven’t rectified their ballots four days before certification day.

One voter has already done so, Maclean said.

As it stands right now, the Aberdeen mayor’s race does not warrant a recount. According to Maclean, the margin between candidates must be smaller than 0.5%. While the margin displayed by the Grays Harbor County Auditor’s office is 0.3%, that margin includes write-in ballots, as well as undervotes (when a voter doesn’t participate in all the races on their ballot) and overvotes (when a voter votes for two candidates in the same race). The actual margin is greater than 0.5% with those ballots excluded, Maclean said.

Voters will have to wait until certification day on Nov. 28 to find out the results of the remaining four ballots and any rejected ballots.

Wednesday’s ballot count brought clear winners to some of the county’s most tightly contested races, but others remain separated by only a few votes and are too close to call.

Aberdeen City Council Ward 3 Position 6

The Nov. 15 ballot count leaves Scott Prato with a 10-vote lead over Norm Klein, at 237-222. Prato has 50.6% of the vote to Klein’s 48.5%.

Aberdeen City Council Ward 6 Position 12

Sydney Newbill will likely join the Aberdeen City Council as she now leads Bessie Jones by 48 votes following Wednesday’s count. After the race stayed within 10 votes through two ballot counts, Newbill’s lead is now 233-185 and more than 10 percentage points.

Cosmopolis City Council Position 4

Cosmopolis’ most tightly contested race grew even tighter after Wednesday’s ballot count, although Mark Collett maintained a three-vote margin over Sue Darcy. Collett, who left last week with a four-vote lead, has 50% of the vote to Darcy’s 49.48%.

Seven ballots from Cosmopolis remained rejected as of Wednesday.

Ocean Shores City Council Position 3

In a 38-vote swing, Lisa Griebel turned the tables city council race in which Susan Conniry padded her modest margin after vote counts last week. Griebel now leads by 14 votes, and has 50% of the vote to Conniry’s 49.6%.

Ocean Shores City Council Position 6

Richard Wills left last week with a six-vote margin over Peggy Jo Faria. That lead remains the same after several hundred votes were counted Wednesday. Wills has 49.97% of the vote to Faria’s 49.8%.

City of Westport Position 2

Troy Meyers held his lead over Tommy Cappa Wednesday in a Westport City Council race. Meyers leaves Wednesday with a 24-vote margin and 51.6% of the vote.

Elma City Council Position 5

Jacob Borden ended Wednesday’s count with an 11-vote lead over Ron Woodman. That margin narrowed from the 14-vote margin he built last week. Borden has 50.49% of the vote to Woodman’s 48.69%.

Borden’s victory is highly likely as of Wednesday, as only nine ballots from Elma remain rejected.

Oakville School Board District 3

In the race between Elizabeth Brockman and write-in candidate Liz Marriott, Brockman has received 194 votes, or 50.7%, while a write-in candidate has received 188, or 49.2%.

According to Maclean, it’s still undetermined how many of the write-in ballots may have listed Marriott’s name and how many might have listed otherwise. Results will be certified on Nov. 28.

Taholah School Board Position 1

A Taholah School Board race that started with a slim margin ended the opposite way, as Jacob James bested Richie Underwood with 62% of the vote. James secured 92 votes to Underwood’s 56.