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The chance of a recount in the Port of Olympia District 2 race appears to be fading away

Port of Olympia District 2 commission candidate Bill Fishburn (left) and incumbent Bill McGregor are separated by 835 votes after Monday’s updated ballot count.
Port of Olympia District 2 commission candidate Bill Fishburn (left) and incumbent Bill McGregor are separated by 835 votes after Monday’s updated ballot count. rboone@theolympian.com

Nine-hundred forty ballots were counted Monday and Tuesday by the Thurston County Auditor’s Office, moving Port of Olympia commission candidate Bill Fishburn closer to incumbent Bill McGregor in their race for the District 2 seat.

But the idea of a recount might be fading away after the 2-day count didn’t move the needle that much.

Prior to Monday and Tuesday’s count, Fishburn and McGregor were separated by 919 votes. After Monday and Tuesday’s count, the difference was 816 votes, with McGregor at 50.79 percent to Fishburn’s 49.24 percent, or a difference of about 1.5 percent.

Forty more ballots are set to be counted Wednesday. Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall also has said there were 459 “challenged” ballots because voters either forgot to sign them, or there was a problem with signatures.

Hall said her office has been dealing with those challenged ballots on an ongoing basis. Once they receive a ballot with no signature, or some other problem with the signature, they send a letter to the voter to correct the problem.

The county received 198 unsigned ballots, 91 of which have been dealt with, she said. In addition to those, however, are 107 outstanding ballots that still need to be reconciled. The balance of the challenged ballots have been addressed, she said.

Here’s what has to happen to trigger a machine or hand recount, according to the Thurston County Auditor’s Office website.

▪ Machine recount: The candidates must be separated by less than 2,000 votes and less than one-half of 1 percent, or .005 percent.

▪ Hand recount: The candidates must be separated by less than 150 votes and less than one-quarter of 1 percent, or .0025 percent.

The auditor’s website also has added a recount calculator for those who are curious about the port race or other close races.

The next ballot count is set for 5 p.m. Wednesday. The election will be certified on Nov. 28.

Fishburn is a former longtime Intel employee and small businessman who lives in Rainier, while McGregor, now retired, is a Coast Guard veteran and former longtime Port of Tacoma, Port of Olympia and Port of Grays Harbor employee.

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