Recount refresh

Last week’s election had a few close races, and while currently none are expected to trigger a recount, we thought it would be helpful to share how a recount works.

It’s important to know that there are two different types of recounts, machine and manual, and that there are different thresholds for each, as well as for the type of race. There are also no mandatory recounts for state advisory votes or local measures.

Mandatory Machine Recount – A machine recount is when in all ballots for that race are re-scanned and re-tabulated electronically. For all races and statewide measures a recount is triggered if the gap is fewer than 2,000 votes and also less than .5% (.005) of the total overall votes cast for both candidates.

Mandatory Manual Recount – A manual recount is when all ballots for that race are counted by hand. For statewide races and measures a recount is triggered if the gap is fewer than 1,000 votes and also less than .25% (.0025) of the total overall votes cast for both candidates. For other races a recount is triggered if the gap is fewer than 150 votes and also less than .25% (.0025) of the total overall votes cast for both candidates.

Occasionally, someone may request a recount. This situation requires an application for a requested recount which must be filed within two business days after the County Canvassing Board or Secretary of State has declared the official results of the primary or election for which the recount is requested. The application must specify the race or state measure to be recounted.

Visit our Elections website or the Secretary of State’s website for more information about the recount process. View our previous blog post about recounts here.

Helpful video to find voting data by precincts

Are you interested in finding past election results and other information according to precinct levels? We’ve put together a short tutorial video that goes over all the available information within the King county interactive precinct level election results data. It explains how to use the filter tool to drill down into more specific data, and how to export this information for later use.

The instructional video is posted on our Past elections webpage and will be linked to from the current election results as well.

How Seattle Voted in the Mayoral Primary

Updated 8/16/2017:

The race for Seattle mayor is now over, with Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon advancing to the November General Election. On Tuesday, King County Elections certified the August 2017 Primary Election. Now that election results are final, we dived back into the data to see how Seattle neighborhoods voted for mayor. (See our updated map below, which now includes voter turnout.) A lot has changed since Election Night: Nikkita Oliver gained three more neighborhoods, and Moon won her first neighborhood.

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Pre-paid postage: How did we do?

As a state that votes entirely by mail, providing pre-paid postage on ballot return envelopes is a subject that comes up from time to time. So this year, we decided to test pre-paid postage with the February 14 special election in Maple Valley and the Shoreline School District. Voters in both jurisdictions received ballot packets that included a return envelope with the postage already paid.

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By the Numbers: 2016 General Election

We crunched the numbers for the November 2016 General Election to see how the county’s six biggest cities voted. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton carried all six cities in her bid for U.S. President. While Seattle and Bellevue voted overwhelmingly for Clinton, Republican candidate and now President-elect Donald J. Trump fared better in south King County. Trump lost to Clinton by fewer than 10,000 votes in Federal Way.

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King County Certifies 2016 General Election Results



King County Elections today certified the final results of the 2016 General Election. Total voter turnout was 82% percent.

The department certified the results, which officially declared winners for candidate offices and declared whether ballot measures passed or failed. Candidate concessions or the media announcing a winner of a race are not official declarations.

Results are certified 21 days after a General Election because Washington is a “voter intent” state. This gives voters enough time to resolve any issues with their ballots or signatures.

The department will post final election results, including precinct-level information, on the Elections website by 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 30.

Record-Setting 1 Million Votes Cast in General Election

More King County voters cast a ballot than ever before in the 2016 General Election: 1,054,564. This is the first time in history that King County Elections received and processed more than 1 million ballots. In 2012, 993,908 ballots were returned and 978,377 processed.


So what caused the increase in ballots cast? Was it more voter turnout? Not exactly. We add about 100,000 new registered voters each year. And over the last year, we canceled the registration of about 58,000 voters, mostly people who have moved away from the county.


The boost in new registered voters is largely due to the county’s steady population growth. King County’s population grew from about 1.5 million residents in 1990 to over 2 million in 2015, an increase of 36%. The county’s growth rate is faster than the overall U.S. population growth of 29% from 1990 to 2015. King County’s population growth over the years reflects a national trend of people moving to cities. Seattle, Bellevue, Kent and Renton saw their populations increase over the last decade.

kce_bb_20161107-243We did not, however, set a record for voter turnout. Of the county’s estimated 1.28 million registered voters, about 82% cast a ballot. Voter turnout was 85% in 2012.

What if there’s a tie?

hand flipping coinMany races are decided by thousands, even tens or hundreds of thousands, of votes. But others are much closer. What happens, you may have wondered, if there’s a tie?

First, there’s a recount – just to make sure the vote totals are correct. Second, candidates are notified of the date and time on which the winner will be determined. Finally, the winner is determined by “lot,” which basically means by a random method determined by the election authority. Typically, a coin toss is used, but theoretically any method could be employed, so long as
it’s random. Rock, paper, scissors anyone?

While this is incredibly rare for most offices, when Precinct Committee Officers (PCOs) are on the ballot, it’s actually fairly common because the vote tallies are so low. This year there are 160 PCO races in King County. Happy coin flipping everyone!