After a closely contested and unusually high-profile race, Democrat Vicky Dalton has won a seventh term as Spokane County auditor.
With less than 1% of ballots left to count, Dalton holds 50.3% of the vote to Republican challenger Bob McCaslin’s 49.7%.
A mere 1,201 votes separate the two candidates out of more than 221,000 ballots cast.
The Spokane County elections office had about 600 ballots left to count as of Wednesday afternoon. Another 2,500 or so ballots remain uncounted due to signature issues.
Dalton estimated that roughly half of those 2,500 voters will correct their signatures and have their votes counted. Still, even if county elections staff process another 1,800 ballots, McCaslin would need to win more than 80% of the remaining vote to catch the incumbent.
After a strong showing by Dalton on the latest vote tally, the race is no longer close enough to trigger an automatic recount. State law requires machine recounts when candidates are separated by fewer than 0.5 percentage points and fewer than 2,000 votes and hand recounts for races closer than 0.25 percentage points and 150 votes.
The race could tighten in the coming days and return to automatic recount territory, but a recount could happen even if McCaslin doesn’t gain ground on Dalton.
Candidates, political parties and groups of five or more registered voters can request recounts. Doing so in this case would be pricey, though.
Dalton said a hand recount would take about 20 Spokane County staffers five to seven full work days. That would cost upwards of $50,000, and the group or individual requesting the recount would have to pay.
McCaslin declined to say whether he planned to request a recount or answer any questions about the race.
“Still in the middle of an election, so really don’t have anything to comment as of this point,” he said. “When everything is all done, we’ll see.”
McCaslin, a sitting state legislator, has become the latest Republican to unsuccessfully run for Spokane County auditor.
Dalton has now won re-election in 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018 and 2022. She’s held onto her seat even though voters haven’t elected any other Democrats in Spokane County-wide elections since 2006.
On the campaign trail, the Democrat has touted her experience and commitment to running secure and accurate elections.
McCaslin has avoided interviews and debates in the run up to the election. He lists transparency, fiscal responsibility, accountability and trust on his website as his top campaign priorities.
In a TV ad, the former kindergarten teacher prominently features a debunked election fraud analysis presented by Seth Keshel, who argues former President Donald Trump was the legitimate winner of the 2020 election.
The Spokane County Canvassing Board will certify election results on Nov. 29.