Ballot issue causing delays in election results

Beating the deadline, Lath Rabieth places his ballot in the dropbox at the Skagit County courthouse complex Tuesday night as election workers Libby Bistodeau (with Rabieth) and Barb Knowlton collect the returns.

MOUNT VERNON — A folding mishap on Skagit County’s general election ballots is causing delays in the tallying of votes.

County Auditor Jeanne Youngquist said the company that prints the county’s ballots, K&H Printers in Everett, folded some ballots in a way that created a crease through the boxes where voters mark their votes.

When these ballots were scanned, the computers saw a line through all the boxes along the crease and read each box as marked, she said.

“It looks like someone took a ruler and drew a line down the ballot,” she said.

County Elections Department staff now have to manually check each of the affected ballots. They estimate between 50 and 75 percent of ballots are impacted.

As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, Skagit County was reporting about 17 percent turnout — the lowest in the state.

However, Youngquist attributes that low number to the delays in tallying votes, adding the county has received a higher than average number of ballots for a midterm election.

“Yesterday was a fake picture of Skagit County’s voter turnout,” she said.

Through Tuesday, 12,517 ballots had been counted, and an estimated 31,000 were still to be counted.

And as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, a total of 21,399 had been counted and the estimate on ballots still remaining to be counted was 30,000.

The county plans to release updated ballot counts daily, county Elections Supervisor David Cunningham said.

Cunningham said this year’s ballot was abnormally large because of the need to include freeholder candidates.

“None of the other counties have to deal with what we’re dealing with,” he said.

The large size of the page required a different folding method, which Cunningham said contributed to the crease mishap.

The elections department noticed the problem several days ago when it started scanning ballots, he said.

Cunningham said the county has had issues with ballot folding before, but not on the same scale as this year.

— Reporter Brandon Stone: bstone@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2112, Twitter: @Brandon_SVH{p style=”margin-bottom: 0in;”}

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