Wait Until Friday For Too Close To Call Races In Lane County

May 21, 2014

Candidates for two seats on the Board of Lane County Commissioners and supporters of the Pleasant Hill school levy will be in limbo for a couple of days. The Lane County Elections office is sorting through the last ballots cast in the Primary Election. The office will not release an updated vote count until late Friday.

If you think your vote doesn’t count, think again. It's too close to call in the West Lane County Commissioners race. Unofficial results posted at midnight Tuesday show incumbent Jay Bozievich ahead of challenger Dawn Lesley by just 45 votes.

Bozievich says he expects there are more than that many votes yet to be counted. In *early results he was trailing his challenger.

Bozievich "The trend was what I expected somewhat. The rural areas come in later and that my support was further away from the urban core."

Jay Bozievich going door-to-door with campaign volunteer.
Credit Rachael McDonald

At a watch party last night Dawn Lesley was optimistic:

Lesley: "We thought it would be close and its close and all we can do is keep hoping for the best."

Dawn Lesley going door-to-door.
Credit Rachael McDonald

Its unlikely Bozievich and Lesley will face a runoff election in November. That would only happen if there are enough write in candidates to prevent one of them from receiving 50 percent plus one.  

It is possible incumbent East Lane County Commissioner Faye Stewart will face his closest challenger Kevin Matthews in November. Stewart currently has just over 50 percent of the vote. But that could change. Here's what he told KLCC Tuesday night.

Stewart: "Oh boy, it's pretty close. It feels good to be in the lead with the opportunity maybe to win this primary election. But I certainly am not being overconfident at this point."

Challenger Kevin Matthews says he thinks the race is too close to call. He was hopeful on election night.

Matthews: "Running against a 3-term incumbent with a shoe-leather versus wallet-leather community based campaign too close to call is great."

The other election that's too close to call is for a school bond in Pleasant Hill. The latest count shows it ahead by just 19 votes.

The candidates for East Lane County Commissioner at a forum at KLCC.
Credit Karen Richards

Lane County Clerk Cheryl Betchart says the ballots that are yet to be counted require a little more time.

Betschart: "We have ballots that are called outstacked ballots. Those are ballots that for whatever reason the tabulator could not read them."

They may be stained, ripped or wrinkled and will have to be counted by hand. Betschart says another group of ballots needs to get looked at by a second team of counters.

Betschart: "Those would be for things that, maybe somebody made a mistake or they wrote a note or they crossed off something or a ballot that might need to be enhanced. So maybe they used a light pencil or they put an x over it instead of coloring in the oval."

Betchart says there are also ballots missing signatures or whose signatures don't match. The elections office will contact those voters to resolve the issue. Also yet to be counted are ballots cast in other counties in Oregon.
Betchart says the final count could change the outcome in those close Lane County races.

Betschart: "Certainly that could occur you know it could go either way. We don't know if it will bring things closer or further apart. Our job right now is to do that analysis as far as the different kinds of ballots to get them reviewed by our teams to get them reviewed by our teams and to get them tabulated as quickly as possible. And we will release our next update by no later than end of the day Friday."

The next step is to certify the results. That happens 20 days after Election Day. The turn-out so far in this primary election is just under 30 percent of registered voters.