A recount is likely in the race for City Council in northeast Spokane, where a razor-thin margin separates the second and third-place candidates.
Naghmana Sherazi led Luc Jasmin III by just two votes after the third day of tabulation on Thursday. Whoever receives more will move on to challenge Jonathan Bingle in the November general election.
Under state law, a recount is triggered if the candidates finish within a certain percentage point of one another. A machine recount is conducted if the gap is less than 0.5%. Votes are hand counted if the separation is only 0.25%.
In northeast Spokane, that means Jasmin and Sherazi would have to be within about 8 votes for a hand recount and 15 votes for a machine recount, according to Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton.
Sherazi currently has 1,875 votes, while Jasmin has 1,873. Bingle handily secured a first-place finish.
With only about 30 votes left to count across Spokane County, and few likely to trickle in via mail, Dalton said the race likely will require a recount.
Dalton does not expect the Spokane County Elections Office to continue to post updated results on a daily basis until Aug. 17, when the election results are certified.
Once results are certified, campaigns are given a couple days of notice to gather observers for the recount if it’s necessary, Dalton said.
If a hand recount is required, two Spokane County Elections Office staffers would independently count the ballots and compare the results. Once they match, it’s compared to the machine results.
“We do a lot of manual recounts, so we’re used to it,” Dalton said.
Jasmin told The Spokesman-Review he trusts the process, and noted that the gap narrowed with each updated count this week.
“We were campaigning up until the very last day trying to get people out to vote, helping them understand the importance of voting,” Jasmin said. “Seeing how close it is right now, people are starting to understand, you know what, every vote does count.”
Sherazi agreed that the results have demonstrated the importance of voting. She’s “cautiously optimistic” that she’ll come out ahead, and that whichever of the two progressive candidates moves on stands a good chance against Bingle.
“I think we both are really good candidates for the council,” Sherazi said. “Of course I hope it’s me, but if I don’t go through and he does, he ran a good campaign and he deserves it, just as I ran a good campaign and I deserve it.”
The closeness of the race has brought uncertainty to the campaigns, but it’s business as usual for Jasmin, who said he is still working to get in front of as many people in northeast Spokane as possible.
“Obviously we’re hoping it turns in our way, (but) regardless of the results I’m still going to be working for the people and doing whatever I can to help magnify the northeast and the needs,” Jasmin said.
Sherazi said her campaign is slowing down, but “that was going to happen anyways; we’ve been campaigning so hard.”
“We’ve already kind of made plans to take a week and just chill for a little bit,” Sherazi said.
The Town of Rockford is facing a tight election for City Council Position 5, with second-place candidate Ivan Willmschen leading by 34 votes to Rachelle Arriaga’s 33 votes. But it is unlikely to require a recount unless it ends in a tie, as the difference between 34 and 33 is greater than 0.5%.
If the ballots are recounted and the result is indeed a tie, the winner would be decided by a game of chance.