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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

7 ballots may decide fate of Cusick’s levy; tax passing by 1 vote

The outcome of the Cusick School District operating levy may rest with seven votes locked in a safe.

At the end of the first count of votes Tuesday night, the levy that would raise $325,000 a year for two years needed 14 more yes votes to pass.

But after the arrival of ballots in Wednesday’s and Thursday’s mail, the measure was passing with one vote more than necessary, 332 to 221, said Pend Oreille County Auditor Carla Heckford. The levy needs more than 60 percent support to pass.

“All you can do is keep your fingers crossed until literally the last ballot is counted,” said Tom Foster, Cusick School Board chairman. “We’re not saying we’ve won this yet.”

The vote was conducted entirely by mail. The county will accept ballots until next Thursday, as long as they were postmarked by Tuesday. But officials don’t expect to receive many more.

At least seven more votes, which have been locked in a safe, may be added to the tally.

Five people forgot to sign their ballots, and two others sent in ballots that had signatures that did not match those on their voter registration cards, Heckford said.

Voters who forgot to sign their ballots were sent a letter and a photocopy of their ballot. If they sign and send the photocopy to the county by Thursday, their ballots will count. Letters also were sent to the two people who sent in ballots with signatures that didn’t match. Their votes will count if they sign and send in a new voter registration card by Thursday. If they don’t, the county’s canvassing board will decide if their ballots will count, Heckford said.

The vote will be certified next Friday.

The election was marked by some confusion because hundreds of voters did not originally receive their ballots. Heckford said the problem was caused by an equipment failure that prevented some address labels for ballots from being printed. Only about 680 of the almost 1,100 ballots that were supposed to be mailed were sent during the first mailing, on Feb. 16, Heckford said. After the error was discovered, ballots were mailed again Feb. 24.