Garrido, Matthes race still up in the air

Candidates for SK commissioner still waiting to see what the final outcome will be.

While Charlotte Garrido has been acknowledged as the winner of the South Kitsap Commissioner’s race, neither she nor her opponent has declared absolute victory or defeat.

“I believe when all is said and done I will be commissioner,” Garrido, a Democrat, said. “I don’t think it will narrow that much.”

“I am keeping a close eye on the totals,” said Tim Matthes, her Republican opponent. “I think there is a real possibility that the percentages will hold up in my favor.”

Matthes said he wants to wait until all the votes are counted before conceding “to show that every vote is important, whether they are the first or the last to cast their ballots.” 

The uncounted votes include illegible or unsigned ballots, as well as absentees from military personnel. Matthes thinks he will have an advantage here, as “people in the military tend to vote more conservatively.”

By the latest vote totals, on Monday afternoon, Garrido polled 53,384 (50.70 percent) to Matthes’ 51,652 (49.06 percent), a difference of 1.6 percent.

An automatic recount is triggered if the margin of victory is less than .5 percent. At this stage of the voting, with approximately 7,000 votes left to count, a narrowing to the recount point is statistically unlikely but not impossible.

For this reason Matthes will not concede until all the votes are counted, which is expected to take until the end of this week.

He has also not ruled out requesting a recount even if the margin of victory is more than .5 percent.

Kitsap County Elections Supervisor Dolores Gilmore said anyone can request a recount, whether they are a candidate or not. A requested hand recount costs 25 cents per ballot, while an electronic recount costs 15 cents per ballot.

As of Monday, 111,891 votes out of 124,444 received ballots had been counted, reflecting a total vote count of 86 percent.

Gilmore said the election went smoothly, but wished that election workers had a little more room to count the ballots.

“Election Central” is a large conference room in the Auditor’s office, that was filled to capacity during the vote count process. It was large enough to accommodate the 2006 election, but was a stretch this year.

“We won’t have to deal with anything this size for another four years,” Gilmore said. “But we are looking for ways to get more room. This isn’t easy, because we need to make sure the room is secure.”

Gilmore said the longest wait time for any voter this year was 45 minutes.

While Matthes has not conceded defeat it would not make much difference if he had, according to Gilmore. If a candidate concedes and the vote tide subsequently turns the concession is not binding.

In any case, the race is not likely to be resolved until the end of this week, at the soonest.

“I think I still have a chance,” Matthes said. “If I were my opponent I wouldn’t be picking out the wallpaper just yet.”

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