The Spokane County auditor’s race is heading to a recount after all.
Republican Bob McCaslin has requested a hand recount of five voting precincts, located in southern Spokane’s Eagle Ridge area. Spokane County elections staff will likely recount the 2,398 ballots Wednesday.
McCaslin, whose term as a 4th Legislative District lawmaker will end this year, had the right to request a recount within two days after the county canvassing board on Tuesday certified the results of the general election.
The Republican narrowly lost the race for Spokane County auditor in November, taking 49.7% of the vote to incumbent Democrat Vicky Dalton’s 50.25%. The candidates were separated by a mere 1,183 votes out of more than 220,000 ballots cast.
The race was almost tight enough to trigger an automatic recount. Washington law requires automatic machine recounts when candidates are separated by less than 0.5 of a percentage point and fewer than 2,000 votes, and hand recounts for races closer than 0.25 of a percentage point and 150 votes.
It’s unclear why McCaslin, who could not immediately be reached for comment, is requesting the recount in those specific areas.
Recounts rarely change more than a few votes and it’s statistically improbable the lawmaker can overcome his 1,183-vote deficit merely by recounting the five Eagle Ridge precincts – all of which went for Dalton.
McCaslin may be hoping the partial hand recount can push the race within the 0.5 of a percentage point margin that would trigger an automatic machine recount.
If that’s McCaslin’s strategy, it’s unclear if it will work. State law does not specify whether a requested recount can be used to trigger an automatic machine recount. Dalton said she was unsure if a requested recount can be used that way.
Requesting a full recount would have been an expensive effort.
Recounting more than 220,000 ballots would have taken about 20 elections staffers five to seven workdays, however, and cost upward of $50,000.
In contrast, McCaslin’s request for a partial recount will likely cost a few thousand dollars.
The canvassing board will meet Monday to set a date and time for the recount, then reconvene Thursday to recertify the election following the recount results.
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