PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The race to represent Southwest Washington in Congress is still too close to call as thousands of ballots wait to be counted.
The margin has tightened in the race with Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez now less than 6,000 votes ahead of Republican Joe Kent — down from 11,000 on Wednesday. More than 56,000 ballots are left to be counted in District 3 — a majority in Clark County.
Dozens of election workers in Vancouver are hand-sorting through the thousands of ballots still left to count in Clark County.
“It’s much more important that the work is done accurately than it is quickly,” said Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey.
Officials point out that they and other election workers in other Washington counties have to do more than just scan a ballot. Much of the security comes down to matching signatures to voter records.
“The primary security feature is a signature on the affidavit envelope so every one of those signatures has to be compared by a human to the voter’s signature on the voter registration record,” said Kimsey. “If the signature is deemed to be a good match, then the ballot is put forth for processing then that next step is the ballot is inspected by the inspection boards. Then, only then, after it’s been inspected, can it be scanned and then tabulated.”
At the end of the day, those thousands of results are uploaded to a voting processing system that remains locked until go-time, eventually updating the ongoing election results as representatives from voting groups like the political parties watch.
As Gluesenkamp Perez’s lead over Kent continues, though with a smaller margin now, she tells KOIN 6 she’s confident there will be a smooth transition, no matter who wins.
“Joe Kent has said over and over and over again that he will accept the results of the election and so I’ve said the same thing, so I’m confident we will have a smooth transition,” said Gluesenkamp Perez. “I am excited to work for everyone in this district. The work happens in the middle and it takes time and I believe that as we get to know each other more, as I have the opportunity to serve my community more, we’ll find more in common.”
KOIN 6 reached out to Kent’s campaign on Thursday, but they declined to interview or provide a statement. However, earlier on Thursday, Kent tweeted out, “Washington state’s lack of transparency and blatant slow roll is a disgrace to voters. I will never back down on election integrity.”
“Washington’s election system, Clark County’s election system is extremely transparent, extremely transparent. The work that is done in this office is of great honor to the voters of Clark County and the state of Washington,” Kimsey told KOIN 6 in response to the tweet.
Later Thursday evening, Gluesenkamp Perez’s campaign released a statement that said, “while there are still too many outstanding ballots remaining to declare victory, our confidence that Marie will ultimately defy expectations and prevail is growing by the day.”
They added that while the margin tightened as they expected, they feel confident that the majority of ballots left to be counted are in Clark County, where they focused much of her campaign. As of Thursday night, she is in the lead there by about 22,000 votes, with around 45,000 still left to be counted.