The Grays Harbor County Auditor’s Office next week will recount the votes cast in the race for Cosmopolis City Council Position 4.
Election officials Tuesday afternoon certified the results in that race, with Mark Collett leading Sue Darcy by two votes, 287-285. As previously reported by The Daily World, the office did not call for a recount at that time. Grays Harbor County Auditor Joe Maclean said on Wednesday morning, however, that further calculations confirmed the close race will indeed require a recount by machine.
The Cosmopolis council race joins races for Aberdeen mayor and Ocean Shores City Council Position 6 as tight contests to be double-checked in 2023. The recounts will take place at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 6.
To trigger an automatic recount in Washington state, the difference in percentage of votes cast for two candidates in a race must be less than 0.5% and fewer than 2,000 votes. The percentage difference is calculated by subtracting the total vote difference between two candidates and dividing that number by the sum of each candidate’s vote total.
The formula excludes any votes cast for write-in candidates, as well as undervotes (when a voter does not pick any candidate) and overvotes (when a voter chooses more than one candidate). That’s why, in some cases, the percentage margin calculated to determine a recount is different from the numbers displayed on the auditor’s website.
Mark Collett and Sue Darcy are separated by 0.34%
The recount will be conducted by machine. State law requires manual recounts when the percentage margin is less than 0.25%. According to the Washington Secretary of State’s Office, the state law on election recounts “does not specify how to conduct the recount, manual or machine, unless the difference between candidates requires a manual recount.”
Maclean said he believes the law does not give county auditors the discretion to opt for a manual recount if the vote margin is greater than one quarter and less than one half of one percent.
However, if the margin in any of the races were to inch within 0.25% as the result of a machine recount, it would move the race into the category of a manual recount, Maclean said. As of now, only the Ocean Shores council race, in which Richard Wills leads Peggy Jo Faria by one vote, requires a manual recount.
It’s rare for either method of recount to change the results of an election, Maclean said.
According to the secretary of state’s office, from 2007 to 2018 there were 124 mandatory recounts in Washington state. Six of those — or about 5% — changed the outcome of the race.
Contact reporter Clayton Franke at 406-552-3917 or email@example.com.