Benton, Stonier keep leads after 500 more ballots counted
Nov 19, 2012 (The Columbian - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
State Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, and Democrat House candidate Monica Stonier continue to lead slightly in the 17th District legislative races after about 500 more votes were counted by Clark County election officials today.
In Benton's bid for re-election, he's ahead of challenger state Rep. Tim Probst, D-Vancouver, by 105 votes. In the race to replace Probst in the House, Stonier leads Republican challenger Julie Olson by a 120-vote margin.
Of the 538 ballots counted today, 149 were from the 17th Legislative District.
The impact of the 1,178 ballots that were scanned but not counted by elections computers won't be known until Tuesday, when those ballots are expected to be tabulated by officials.
Clark County Elections Supervisor Tim Likness said he has invited the Probst, Benton, Olson and Stonier campaigns to an informational meeting Tuesday afternoon to discuss those uncounted ballots. Likness said he wants the campaigns to understand what elections officials will do to make sure those ballots are included in the final count.
"Those (ballots) will get added in tomorrow," Likness said by phone today. It is not known how many of those uncounted ballots were from the 17th District.
Both 17th District legislative races could be headed for a manual recount because elections officials are required to recount ballots in races that are separated by less than 2,000 votes and less than one half of a percentage point.
Only 0.19 of a percentage point separates Benton and Probst as of today's tally, while 0.22 separates Stonier and Olson.
There aren't many more ballots expected to trickle in through the mail, as ballots had to be postmarked by Nov. 6 to qualify. Today, the elections office received eight more ballots that had been postmarked by Election Day. The late arriving ballots are likely from military or overseas voters.
Additionally, there are about 1,600 ballots that haven't been counted because of signature problems.
Voters whose signatures were missing from their ballots or were deemed suspect have until Monday to contact the elections department and resolve the problem. Those voters have already been notified by election officials.
In Clark County, voter turnout is at nearly 80 percent.
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