PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County election team is preparing to conduct the ballot recount for the Chimacum School Board election.
The primary ballot for the District 3 position — currently held by Board Chair Mike Gould, who is not seeking re-election — led to candidate Kristina Mayer, 66, claiming a spot in the Nov. 5 general election, but it is still unclear if candidates Steve Martin, 47, or Gary Frogner, 66, will join her.
The recount will take place Wednesday and Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with the planned final certification to occur at a 12:30 p.m. meeting Friday.
Martin — the owner of NW Landworks Inc. of Chimacum — was following close behind Frogner in the first two ballot counts, with first a seven-vote difference and then a one-vote difference. At the certification meeting last Tuesday, Martin overtook Frogner to now lead 504 votes (19.33 percent) to Frogner’s 502 votes (19.26 percent).
The state requires ballots to be counted by hand if the difference in votes between two candidates is less than 150 votes and less than one quarter of 1 percent of the total votes cast.
The state requires a machine ballot recount in the event of a race having a difference of votes less than 2,000 and which is under 0.5 percent of the overall votes cast for both candidates.
Frogner will be happy with either outcome of the recount certification Friday.
“It’s close and I think it shows that every voter counts and primary elections are important,” Frogner said. “The individual I am close with is Steve Martin and he’s a very good candidate, and if he is selected I am sure he will be a great benefit to the community and school. He’s a super candidate.”
Originally, this election had a mandated hand recount, but if the two candidates consented, the ballots could be recounted by machine. As of last Thursday, both Frogner and Martin submitted their written consent for a machine recount, said Quinn Grewell, election coordinator in the Jefferson County Auditor’s Office.
This is Grewell’s first election and first vote recount with Jefferson County, as she is being trained to replace election coordinator Betty Johnson, who is retiring at the end of this year.
Johnson has worked for Jefferson County since 1995, but took over the election coordinator position in 2014. This is her first time conducting a recount as well and both coordinators are looking forward to it.
“I was excited … because it’s an incredible learning experience for me; especially with having someone with all this knowledge too, going through it with me,” Grewell said. “Everything I’m doing right now is a learning experience.”
The recount will happen Wednesday, but before that the team has to prepare all its administrative paperwork and files before staff can begin sorting the ballots Tuesday by precinct. Only the ballots that have the Chimacum measure on it will be recounted, which is only 2,842 ballots out of the overall 7,753 ballots submitted during the primary.
“It’s not a matter of a hard thing to do, it’s just a process,” Johnson said. “The thing is though, it takes time out of preparing for the next election, which is limited. Ballots actually go in the mail for the next election September 20, which is when the military and overseas ballots go in the mail.”
State law dictates that no person can be left alone with a ballot. All ballots have at least two people handling them at all times, Johnson said.
“If one of us has to use the restroom and there’s only two of us, we have to lock up and both go together,” Grewell said.
Since it’s a machine recount, both Johnson and Grewell expect the recount to only take a couple of hours.
Whoever wins between Frogner and Martin will join Mayer on the general election ballot.
Martin was not immediately unavailable for comment.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected].