WALLA WALLA - The Port of Walla Walla commission race between incumbent Michael Fredrickson and challenger Barlow Corkrum will head to an automatic recount if the margin in their contest remains similar in final counting next week.
Hundreds of ballots remain to be counted, according to figures posted at the county election website. As of this evening, Fredrickson holds a 49-vote lead over Corkrum, 6,661 to 6,612.
County Auditor Karen Martin said this evening the next count, scheduled for Wednesday, would include several hundred ballots that haven't yet been processed, as well as more than 100 that need to be reviewed by the county Canvassing Board.
In addition, machine counting thus far has not checked for undervotes, which include markings outside the oval on a ballot that nevertheless indicate voter intent. A measure of the undervote can be seen in the difference between the total votes counted in the Port race - 13,273 - and the overall ballot count county-wide, 15,626.
Martin said the counting equipment would be programmed to examine ballots for undervotes in the case of a recount.
An automatic recount is triggered if two conditions prevail: The candidates must be separated by less than 2,000 votes - the current margin is 49 - and the margin must also be less than 0.5 percent of the total votes cast.
Based on figures available this evening, the margin would have had to be about 80 to avoid an automatic recount, so with hundreds of votes to count, the required margin is not yet known but should not swing much higher than the current total.
Regardless of an automatic recount, either candidate may request a recount, though a deposit is required and an outcome that is unchanged means the requester foots the bill for the process.