Naghmana Sherazi will face off against Jonathan Bingle in the race for northeast Spokane’s City Council seat following a recount Tuesday of the primary election ballots.
“I am feeling the relief, it has been pretty stressful,” Sherazi said after learning she’d won.
Sherazi had been narrowly ahead of Luc Jasmin III since the Aug. 3 primary election. Going into the recount Tuesday, she had a four-vote lead. That four-vote lead held after the recount.
In Washington, the top two vote-getters in primary elections advance to the general.
Bingle had his spot on the general election ballot secured Aug. 3. He managed to take 46.6% of the vote.
But Sherazi and Jasmin were in a nailbiter, with Sherazi leading Jasmin 1,889 votes to 1,885. Each candidate took 26.7% of the vote.
That razor-thin margin triggered a recount. By Washington law, if two candidates receive vote tallies within 0.25% of each other, a hand recount is required. A gap less than 0.5% triggers a machine recount.
Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton’s staff conducted the recount Tuesday in the county’s elections office. Staff had to count more than 7,000 ballots by hand.
The recount room was quiet and calm except for the sound of paper ballots being leafed through, tapped against tables and sorted by practiced hands.
Dalton said she wasn’t surprised that Sherazi’s four-vote lead held steady.
“If you look at our recounts for the last decade, that’s pretty much to be expected,” she said.
The recount netted Bingle one additional vote.
“It was one of the ballots that people can print from their computer and send in,” Dalton explained. “When it went through our tabulator, that one doesn’t read as a ballot.”
The recount led to one other change, but it wasn’t consequential. The voting machine counted eight ballots as write-ins that should have been undervotes – an undervote occurs when a voter leaves her ballot blank for a given race. The undercount error occurred because the write-in bubbles had been filled in but voters hadn’t written names on the write-in lines.
After her victory, Sherazi complimented Jasmin.
“Luc has been tremendous through this whole process, he’s a team player for sure,” she said. “He understands the bigger picture.”
Jasmin did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday, but he endorsed Sherazi on Twitter.
“It’s important we make sure the candidates who are hardworking, level headed & community focused are elected to City Council in November,” he wrote.
Sherazi said that her plan now is to get back to doorbelling.
“It’s going to be a little challenging, I feel, with the delta variant and everything,” she said.
Even though Bingle handily defeated both Sherazi and Jasmin in the primary, it’s possible Sherazi could pick up a large portion of Jasmin’s votes in November.
But Sherazi isn’t banking on that.
“District 1 (northeast Spokane) is very unpredictable,” she said.
While the Sherazi-Jasmin race has come to a close, one local race still has to be decided. And it’ll be decided by chance.
Even after the recount, Rockford Town Council candidates Rachelle Arriaga and Ivan Willmschen remained tied at 34 votes each. Mark Lonam Jr.’s place on the general election ballot had already been safe after he received 38 votes.
State law allows county auditors to devise their own tiebreakers. Dalton’s tiebreaking method entails placing numbered balls in a small, brown milk bottle and deciding the winner of a race based on which ball rolls out first.
The milk jug decision between Arriaga and Willmschen will be made immediately after the Canvassing Board certifies the election results Thursday at 11 a.m.
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