35 incorporation votes are now in doubt

"Silverdale incorporation seemed headed for failure after the last count of absentee ballots, but questions about the validity of some votes may make for an entirely new election.Kitsap County Auditor Karen Flynn identified 35 problem ballots scattered through Morken, Anderson Creek and Bangor 100 precincts. Incorporation proponents and officials with the auditor’s office identified two general classes of questionable balloting: people who live outside of the boundaries who were allowed to vote on the issue and people who live inside who were not.At presstime, the auditor’s office counted 16 of the former and 19 of the latter ballots.“We’re not blaming Karen Flynn or the auditor’s office for this. They basically had two days to deal with this issue once they got the legal description from Public Works, and it cut across jurisdiction lines ... it was a daunting task,” said cityhood supporter Bill Broughton.“It’s understandable that these errors were made. It was regrettable, but not the auditor’s fault,” Broughton said.Flynn said the errors were made when the auditor’s office set out to find the registered voters in the incorporation area. Her office got maps of the area only two days before its deadline and had to translate the maps, which were designated in parcels, to street addresses.“In many of these cases it was just confusing,” Flynn said. She cited the 5800 block of Newberry Hill Road as one problem area: the boundary includes addresses starting with 5803 and ending with 5855, but not all in the numeric sequence are in the boundary.“We included all of them and only some of them applied,” Flynn said. “We certainly feel terrible about not having caught these errors at a much sooner time. It was certainly an administrative error on our part.”Incorporation advocates said they are frustrated with the difficulties. “If we were losing by a couple hundred votes and we found a few ballots, then oh well. But if we found a few ballots more than the decisive number, then we’ve got a serious problem,” cityhood advocate Jim Kendall said. “If the problem is serious enough, then it has to be invalidated,” Kendall said. “If not, then we will refile.”Although there is no statutory threshold to determine whether an election is valid or not, Flynn said she will take the issue to Superior Court if the number of questionable ballots exceeds the margin between incorporation approval and rejection. The judge will determine the next step in the process, but these are the scenarios bandied about on Monday:• Conducting a new election for the incorporation issue and throwing out all of the results from Nov. 2. Incorporation proponents support this alternative across the board, while Flynn said it might not be the most prudent avenue.“My interest in this as county auditor is that we have a fair process that is also timely. The proponents of Silverdale incorporation have another interest,” Flynn paused. “If the measure is failing, they would probably like to see the entire election put over again.”“I want a total new election. It’s not fair. How can you go back and have only a small part of the electorate make the decision for you?” Kendall asked. “What I think needs to happen is we clean up the voter list so it’s accurate.”• Conducting a new election in the precincts in question. “I hope they wouldn’t try and partially invalidate the elections, to throw out or revote just in the affected precincts,” incorporation proponent Bert Cole said. “That just seems unfair. Then you have 50 people deciding the issue for everyone.”• Allowing the people denied ballots to vote on the issue. “In this precinct where 25 people voted and 15 people voted that shouldn’t have ... we might ask the court to exclude those 25 votes and have those 10 people vote again,” Flynn explained. “They might be mailed an absentee ballot.”But incorporation proponents gave this prospect a thumbs down. “To say maybe we’ll just have these 16 vote on these issues ... frankly, I think it stinks. Election day is a snapshot of how they feel and to target a small group” is unfair, Kendall said."

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