As of Wednesday evening, Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez retained a lead over Republican Joe Kent.
VANCOUVER, Wash. — Though multiple close races in Oregon and Washington have been called by major media outlets, election officials indicate that the outcome for Washington’s 3rd Congressional District could take days to materialize.
As of Wednesday evening, Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez had a slight lead over Republican Joe Kent, roughly 52.7% to 47.3%, with just over 213,000 votes counted. Kent gained only slightly with the votes counted on Wednesday.
Clark County auditor Greg Kimsey, himself up for re-election, indicated that there were likely about 90,000 ballots cast that had yet to be counted after Election Day. The Clark County elections office had received about 85,000 of those ballots, and more are expected to arrive through the mail.
According to Kimsey, Clark County has the ability to verify and count about 20,000 ballots per day — meaning the outcome for WA-03 could take days to emerge, perhaps stretching into next week.
“Today’s report will still not be 100% of the ballots that have been returned,” Kimsey said. “It takes some time to make sure the process is carried out the way — accuracy is much more important than speed. So the signature verification process takes a lot of time and we do have a very large staff doing that today.”
Clark County released the latest set of results just after 5 p.m. on Wednesday, with another batch expected around the same time Thursday.
“When we’re all done we’ll have over 200,000 (ballots) — maybe a 65% turnout,” Kimsey said. “It’s not quite as good of turnout as we had four years ago but it’s better than some other midterms”
The number of ballots yet to be counted in Clark County and the total number of ballots returned in 2018 for the 3rd District, 307,226, suggest that the majority of outstanding ballots that will impact this race come from Clark County.
Thus far, votes in Clark County have skewed toward Gluesenkamp Perez, 59% to Kent’s 41%. However, Kent’s campaign manager, Ozzie Gonzalez, told KGW that they expect to see a surge in votes over time because many Republican voters waited until Election Day to return their ballots.
Kimsey said that the Clark County elections office performed the first of several election audits Wednesday, observed by representatives from the League of Women Voters. They passed the test with flying colors, according to him.
“What the audit does, it confirms that the voting system, hardware and software, is performing as we expected it to perform,” Kimsey said. “This morning, as it has been in every audit, the results were perfect.”
KGW reached out to both the Gluesenkamp Perez and Kent campaigns on Wednesday. Neither indicated that they intended to issue statements at this time, preferring to wait until more votes are counted.