County election officials find 224 uncounted ballots

Snohomish County elections officials Monday discovered 224 ballots that were not counted in the Nov. 2 general election results.

The discovery came as election workers were in the midst of a recount for the state’s close gubernatorial election.

It’s uncertain how the votes will affect the race, in which Republican Dino Rossi last week finished statewide with a 261-vote lead over Democrat Christine Gregoire.

The ballots are from 33 precincts, and they ranged from as few as just one ballot to as many as 35 in the Fir Grove precinct near Snohomish. Twenty-four of the precincts are from Everett and the remainder are scattered around the county, Snohomish County election manager Carolyn Diepenbrock said Monday night.

“All the slips and the audit trail were there,” Auditor Bob Terwilliger said. “Evidently they just weren’t brought out of (secure cabinets) for the final run. I don’t know what happened.”

Because there’s generally just a handful of ballots from any given precinct, Terwilliger figures they were either absentees that trickled in or provisional ballots that needed checking.

Diepenbrock said she’s not sure either, but she speculates that somebody inadvertently stuck empty trays on top of the tray containing the 224 ballots.

“All the paperwork was there in preparation to be counted and (the ballots) were at the bottom of the tray,” Diepenbrock said.

Kelly Wright, a member of the state Democratic Committee, was in the counting office observing the recount when Terwilliger announced the discovery.

“I’m surprised, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility,” Wright said.

Vote counting is an imperfect process, and this find is all the more reason why recounts are necessary, Wright said.

“If it had not been for an automatic recount, those ballots would never have been counted,” he said. “We have a good election department here and this is indicative of what else could come up in the state.”

Evelyn Spencer, county Republican election and campaign director, also was observing the recount.

“I’m glad they found the ballots now instead of after everything was said and done,” Spencer said.

She doesn’t know what the discovery will mean as far as the governor’s race is concerned. Many of the ballots are from precincts that leaned toward Gregoire, she said. Some are from precincts that favored Rossi.

However, throughout the county, Rossi garnered nearly 6,500 more votes than Gregoire in the first count.

No matter how it plays out, Spencer doesn’t think these ballots alone will tilt the election away from Rossi.

The county canvassing board will meet at 1 p.m. today, and Terwilliger expects it to order him to count these ballots. His office will also verify that they were kept in a secure location and explain as well as possible what happened.

The recount of nearly 297,000 Snohomish County votes started Monday morning, and by 6 p.m. about two-thirds of them had been counted. Terwilliger believes the remainder will be tallied today by mid-afternoon.

Meanwhile In King County, a federal court judge said Monday he will hear arguments next week on a state Republican lawsuit saying that some ballots there should not be included in the recount.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez scheduled the hearing for Nov. 30, two days before the state is set to certify results of the statewide recount triggered by the close race.

The recount began in a handful of counties Saturday and is expected to wrap up Wednesday. As of Monday evening, 20 counties had reported recount results, giving Rossi an extra 15 votes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Reporter Jim Haley: 425-339-3447 or

Talk to us

More in Local News

Cars move across Edgewater Bridge toward Everett on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, in Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edgewater Bridge redo linking Everett, Mukilteo delayed until mid-2024

The project, now with an estimated cost of $27 million, will detour West Mukilteo Boulevard foot and car traffic for a year.

Lynn Deeken, the Dean of Arts, Learning Resources & Pathways at EvCC, addresses a large gathering during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Cascade Learning Center on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New EvCC learning resource center opens to students, public

Planners of the Everett Community College building hope it will encourage students to use on-campus tutoring resources.

Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman announces his retirement after 31 years of service at the Everett City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett police chief to retire at the end of October

Chief Dan Templeman announced his retirement at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. He has been chief for nine years.

Boeing employees watch the KC-46 Pegasus delivery event  from the air stairs at Boeing on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Boeing’s iconic Everett factory tour to resume in October

After a three-year hiatus, tours of the Boeing Company’s enormous jet assembly plant are back at Paine Field.

A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Teen boy identified in fatal shooting at Everett bus stop

Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15, was shot at a Hardeson Road bus stop earlier this month. Police arrested two suspects.

Fatal 2-car crash closes Highway 99 in Lynnwood

Police closed off Highway 99 between 188th Street SW and 196th Street SW while they investigated.

Mike Bredstrand, who is trying to get back his job with Lake Stevens Public Works, stands in front of the department’s building on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Bredstrand believes his firing in July was an unwarranted act of revenge by the city. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lake Stevens worker was fired after getting court order against boss

The city has reportedly spent nearly $60,000 on attorney and arbitration fees related to Mike Bredstrand, who wants his job back.

Chap Grubb, founder and CEO of second-hand outdoor gear store Rerouted, stands inside his new storefront on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Gold Bar, Washington. Rerouted began as an entirely online shop that connected buyers and sellers of used gear.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Used outdoor gear shop Rerouted finds a niche in Gold Bar

Seeking to keep good outdoor gear out of landfills, an online reselling business has put down roots in Gold Bar.

Naval Station Everett. (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)
Everett man sentenced to 6 years for cyberstalking ex-wife

Christopher Crawford, 42, was found guilty of sending intimate photos of his ex-wife to adult websites and to colleagues in the Navy.

Most Read