At least 88,867 ballots have been returned to the Yakima County elections office, with more boxes of ballots yet to be opened.

So far, that accounts for a 69.9% ballot return rate in the county. Officials are anticipating an 80% return rate.

“That number will continue to grow over the next day or two,” said Yakima County Auditor Charles Ross, pointing to boxes full of ballots yet to be processed, as well as mailed votes still anticipated.

Local race outcomes were unchanged Wednesday as more ballots were counted. Yakima County voters selected Amanda McKinney to replace Vicki Baker as a county commissioner. Elisabeth Tutsch, Jeff Swan and Blaine Gibson continued to lead their races for Yakima County Superior Court judge positions.

Ross said he spent the day after the election picking up ballots from drop boxes across the Valley and “clear down to Grandview.”

Election officials sealed drop boxes at 8 p.m. on election night, when the vote closed.

With boxes of unprocessed ballots still to be tended to, Ross said it’s unclear how many ballots have been returned so far or are still anticipated.

But election officials spent Wednesday processing in-house ballots nonstop at the county courthouse in downtown Yakima, said Ross. That will continue for the next couple of weeks.

Because of restrictions from COVID-19, he said staff is halved compared to a normal election, slowing ballot processing.

“The post-election process is going to take a while because there are so many ballots,” he said. “But that’s why we have clear until Thanksgiving to certify this election.”

Preliminary results were released shortly after 8 p.m. on Tuesday and are updated daily. The election results will be certified on Nov. 24.

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