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

Late ballots fail to lift STA tax measure

Late returns counted Wednesday failed to give a Spokane Transit Authority ballot measure enough votes to overcome an election night deficit of 863 votes. The Spokane County Auditor said that with the remaining ballots to be counted the chance of the measure passing is “almost impossible.” The “yes” votes closed the gap in the late count of an additional 6,556 ballots. The gap went from 863 votes down to 681 votes down. The “yes” votes stood at 49.5 percent compared with 50.5 percent against Spokane Transit Authority Proposition 1. County officials estimated that there are 800 to 1,000 votes yet to be counted, including about 500 ballots where the voter failed to sign the ballot return envelope as required. Those voters will be receiving letters from the county giving them until May 11 to validate their ballot, officials said. County Auditor Vicky Dalton said that there will not be a substantial number of ballots arriving by mail that were postmarked on Tuesday. STA was seeking a 0.3 percent increase in the local sales tax to pay for a major expansion of mass transit as well as to shore up the existing system that is now operating on a number of aging buses. Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder, a supporter of transit expansion, said he is not going to give up on getting voter approval. He said city voters supported the measure by a strong majority. “We have got to look at going out again or doing things a little differently,” Snyder said. “It really wasn’t close in the city of Spokane,” he said. County Commissioner Al French, a member of the STA board and a supporter of the measure said he has not given up completely on overcoming the deficit. An analysis of the count through Wednesday showed strong support for the measure in the cities of Spokane, Cheney, Airway Heights and Medical Lake, but widespread opposition in Spokane Valley and suburban areas ringing the cities.