Former Councilman Mike Allen's lead over incumbent Richard Rush grew by three to 91 on Wednesday after a recount of the Spokane City Council election for the city's south district.
The race was recounted by machine because the result from the first count was within half of 1 percentage point. Rush said he still plans to pursue a hand recount, which the Spokane County Democratic Party has agreed to finance.
Results of a hand recount in the 4th Legislative District senate race, which also was completed Wednesday and was paid for by candidate Jeff Baxter, may not give Rush much hope for much change.
Baxter paid more than $1,700 to have 10 precincts recounted in his race against state Sen. Mike Padden. Election workers who tallied the ballots Wednesday morning found two errors. Baxter lost a vote, and one vote that had been counted as blank was changed to a write-in, for the candidate “N/A.”
In the Rush-Allen race, Rush's tally was found to be too high by two and Allen gained a vote after a ballot that had been counted as blank was found to have been marked for Allen.
Election Manager Mike McLaughlin said he can't say for sure why Rush's count fell by two. One possibility is that after paper jams occurred in the machines, ballots that already had been counted may have been sent through a second time, he said.
Each campaign involved in the two recounts had observers at the Elections Office.
Baxter lost to Padden by 3,638 votes. He said he paid for the recount with his personal money and did so because results in some precincts conflicted with data campaign workers collected when going door-to-door. The outcome hints that in a future race volunteers need to do a better job reaching voters when they're home, he said.
“I didn't think anything insidious was going on,” Baxter said. “I'm just saying that we need to work a little harder in different precincts.”
Baxter said he hasn't decided if he will run again next year.
Last week, Rush indicated that Baxter may have paid for a recount to prevent Rush's race from being recounted by hand. Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton originally requested that the City Council race be counted by hand to test new scanners in the county's voting machines. But she changed course after Baxter opted to pay for a recount in his race.
“It had absolutely nothing to do with his race,” Baxter said. “I don't have the time to be playing those games.”