The Spokane Valley City Council race between incumbent Rod Higgins and challenger James “JJ” Johnson is officially heading to a recount.
Spokane County certified the election Tuesday. Overall, the county saw 37% voter turnout for this year’s general election.
The Higgins-Johnson race is the only one yet to be finalized.
Higgins has a mere 68-vote lead, with 10,375 votes to Johnson’s 10,307. That gives Higgins exactly 50% of the vote while Johnson has 49.7%.
Races separated by less than 0.5% and fewer than 2,000 votes trigger an automatic recount.
Per Washington law, the Higgins-Johnson race forced a machine recount. If Higgins and Johnson were separated by less than 0.25% and fewer than 1,000 votes, the county would be doing a hand recount.
On election night, it looked like Johnson had beaten Higgins, who has served on City Council since 2013. With 80% of Spokane Valley’s ballots cast, Johnson had 50.5% of the vote to Higgins’ 49%.
That didn’t give Johnson much breathing room, but it wasn’t a great outlook for Higgins either. Later arriving ballots tend to trend more conservative, which favored Higgins, but the 1.5% gap was sizable given only 20% of vote remained to be counted.
Higgins said he thought he’d need a miracle in order to come back. And in his words, he got one.
As the elections office released more ballots, Higgins kept gaining ground. On election night, he was down 253 votes, but he surpassed Johnson by taking 54% of the 4,098 votes counted after election day.
Unfortunately for Johnson, the recount isn’t likely to do him much good. Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton said in recent years, Spokane County recounts haven’t changed more than a few votes.
Dalton said the county will conduct the recount on Nov. 30 and certify the results of the recount Dec. 1.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.