Julia Hart and Mike Farmer are tied in their Sunnyside City Council race, as are council candidates Tony Guzman and Frances Ayres in Wapato.
Relative to those races, David Hansen is pulling away from David Matson with a one-vote lead in their Union Gap City Council race.
Nine days after Election Day, those are the county’s remaining unsettled races.
Hart, an incumbent in Sunnyside, has 537 votes, as does her opponent, former Councilman Mike Farmer. Guzman and Ayres each have 161 votes in their race to replace Wapato incumbent Irasema Gonzalez Cantu, who lost in the August primary. In Union Gap, three-term incumbent Matson has 306 votes while Hansen has 307.
One late-arriving ballot has yet to be accounted for countywide, according to Auditor Charles Ross, and he doesn’t believe it’s from any of those three cities. Still, the numbers could change. Each race features “challenged ballots” that have yet to be counted.
In Wapato two ballots were returned unsigned and two had signatures that didn’t match those on file with the Auditor’s Office. In Union Gap one is unsigned and one doesn’t match. And in Sunnyside five are unsigned and six don’t match.
The voters associated with those ballots have been or will be contacted by the Auditor’s Office, Ross said. But it’s up to them whether to “cure” the issues by signing the ballots or proving they were the ones who signed them previously.
It’s likely that one or more of the races will trigger a recount, Ross said.
Under state law, a recount using electronic scanners is mandatory if the margin between the candidates is less than 2,000 votes and less than a half-percent. A manual recount, where workers inspect the ballots, is triggered when the margin is less than 150 votes and less than a quarter of a percent.
But that might not decide them, especially if they appear tied heading into a recount.
“Historically we’ve always been exactly the same with our recounts that we were with our machines,” Ross said.
If, after a recount, a race remains tied, it’s settled by a coin flip. That would occur sometime around Dec. 5, Ross said. The last time a tie was decided that way in Yakima County was in 2007 when incumbent Tieton Councilwoman Felisa Cox won a coin flip against challenger Juanita Karam.
All three races point to the value of each eligible voter’s participation, Ross said.
“If you think your vote doesn’t count, you should think twice,” he said.