WALLA WALLA -- A recount is almost certainly in the offing in the hotly contested Port of Walla Walla race between incumbent Michael Fredrickson and challenger Barlow Corkrum.
If the margin in their contest, down to 49 votes from nearly 160 in initial counting, doesn't bump back up significantly in a count scheduled for Wednesday, an automatic recount will be triggered.
As of Thursday, 15,626 votes had been counted and about 630 ballots remain, according to figures posted at the county election website. State rules call for a recount if the margin is 0.5 percent or less, which in this case would be 83 or 84 votes.
Fredrickson currently leads Corkrum, 6,661 to 6,612.
County Auditor Karen Martin said Thursday evening the next count would include hundreds of 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 improperly marked or damaged ballots referred to by election officials as 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 countywide, 15,626.
Martin said the counting equipment would be programmed to examine ballots for undervotes in the case of a recount.
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.
Alasdair Stewart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8311.