Four races in county are within 20 votes as tally continues

There are no more doorbells to ring or signs to wave — only nails to bite.

Election Day is long over, but there are still a handful of Snohomish County races too close to call.

For the candidates who have to wait for results, it can be nerve-wracking.

“It’s the nature of campaigns to think about that one door you didn’t knock on,” Lynnwood City Councilman Jim Smith said.

As of Friday evening, he was trailing his opponent Van AuBuchon by 14 votes. For awhile earlier this week, they were tied.

After serving six terms, Smith has had only one race this close: his first. He won by 22 votes.

“How many times do you see a tie vote this late in the race?” he said.

Three other races were within 20 votes too: Mitch Ruth trails Jim Kamp by two votes for Monroe City Council; Emily Vanderwielen leads Terry Preshaw by 19 votes for Mukilteo City Council; and Joyce Jones is just eight votes behind Dan Rankin for Darrington mayor.

County workers are still busy counting ballots, and they will be all the way up until Nov. 29 when the election is certified, said Garth Fell, Snohomish County elections manager.

That’s partly because ballots from the military and others overseas can be accepted until the Nov. 29, he said. It’s also because counting ballots is an exacting process: signatures are verified, secrecy envelopes are removed and each ballot is visually inspected and scanned into a computer.

That’s a time-consuming process for the nearly 200,000 ballots that county workers expect to count.

A machine recount is triggered when the final vote count between two candidates is less than one-half of 1 percent. A hand recount occurs when the difference between candidates is less than one-quarter of 1 percent.

The city council races in Lynnwood, Mukilteo and Monroe would all qualify for recounts if the most current results stand.

The race in Darrington would only qualify for a recount if the two candidates were a single vote apart.

One Edmonds City Council race is close but not close enough for a recount. Lora Petso is ahead of Darlene Stern by 118 votes in that race.

The next vote total update is expected sometime next week and perhaps as late as Nov. 28, Fell said. There are fewer than 500 ballots left to count.

Recounts could take an additional few weeks.

And what if a race ends in a tie, even after the recount?

A coin is flipped.

“The winner gets the position,” Fell said. “The loser gets the coin.”

Reporter Debra Smith: 425-339-3197 or

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