VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — The latest tally in the race for the second and final spot in the Washington 3rd Congressional District race shows GOP challenger Joe Kent taking the lead from incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler.

Whoever ekes out a primary victory will face Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, who took the most votes and the top spot in the primary last Tuesday.

County election officials released the latest vote tally around 6 p.m. Kent, who trailed by 257 votes, now has a 960 vote lead over Herrera Beutler.

In Washington, all the candidates are on just one ballot. The top two vote-getters, regardless of their party affiliation, move on to November’s general election.

Washington is also a state that allows postmarked ballots to be accepted. If a ballot is postmarked by 8 p.m. on election night, that vote will be counted. So many ballots came in at the last minute — in Clark County, more than 90,000 ballots arrived in ballot boxes on and around election day — the ballot counting is still very much underway.

Overall, 143,000 votes were cast in the county. An estimated 10,000 votes are left to count in Clark County, the district’s largest, and another update won’t occur until Tuesday afternoon. Several hundred votes remain to be counted in the district’s other counties.

“As you know, the most important security feature in vote-by-mail is to verify the signatures on those affidavit envelopes,” said Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey. “And everyone of those ballot envelopes that are returned by voters have to be reviewed by a trained person, trained by the Washington State Patrol, to verify the signature on the ballot envelope against the voter’s registration signature.”

Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey, August 8, 2022 (KOIN)
Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey, August 8, 2022 (KOIN)

If a signature doesn’t match that on a voter registration card, the voter is sent a letter, sometimes even called, to submit another signature. Right now there are at least 2000 of these challenged ballots to work through.

Vote counting has to be finished by Tuesday, August 16. It’s also highly likely there will be an automatic recount triggered by a finish of less than 2000 votes and at least 0.5% of the total votes cast.

Neither Herrera Beutler nor Kent are commenting on the tallies until the final numbers are in.

The battle between Herrera Beutler and Kent is a now-familiar tale: She voted to impeach Donald Trump following the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and he was endorsed by Trump in the primary.

However, another GOP representative in Washington who voted to impeach Trump, Dan Newhouse, survived his primary challenge.