Oregon Independent Primary Triggers Manual Recount

The May 15 primary election delivered a few surprises that may take days (or weeks) to untangle.

Posted: May 16, 2018 12:03 PM

SALEM, Ore. — While election results are still considered unofficial, most races in Southern Oregon and throughout the state delivered clear front-runners before 9 p.m. on election night. However, there were a few notable exceptions.

The nonpartisan race for County Commissioner (Position 2) in Lake County came down to difference of less than one percent, or about 14 votes, between current front-runner Bruce Webbon and close-second James Williams.

Even closer is the race between the Republican candidates for State Representative, District 2. At the most recent count, incumbent Dallas L. Heard leads challenger Gary Leif by .19 percent—or 13 votes out of 6,886 counted.

CLICK HERE for our complete article on all election results, local and state.

While the Democratic and Republican primaries for Oregon's gubernatorial race produced clear winners—Kate Brown and Knute Buehler, respectively—Oregon's Independent Party is facing an unusual set of circumstances to resolve their primary.

Independent gubernatorial candidate Patrick Starnes received 26.4 percent of the vote, making him the technical front-runner. However, almost 55 percent of Independent votes went to write-in candidates, introducing the potential that Starnes might be outgunned after all.

Oregon election law includes a procedure for write-in candidates that mandates a manual recount (and recording) of those votes if they happen to equal or exceed the number of votes for a single candidate. Since write-in votes unnumbered votes for Starnes, the recount here is inevitable.

Perhaps more surprising, however, is that the Independent Party of Oregon (IPO) believes those votes could go to Buehler, Brown, or another major party candidate. Although Democrats and Republicans had closed primaries, it is possible for Independent voters (not registered with either major party) to have written in those candidates.

And, IPO said in a statement, both Brown and Buehler did major outreach to Independent voters before the primary.

"If Brown or Buehler gets more than 50 percent of the write-in vote, our party is going to have a very close primary race for governor this year," said IPO co-chair, Rob Harris.

Under Oregon law, IPO says, a major party candidate who also wins the Independent nomination via write-in can list their 'cross-nomination' status on the general election ballot. However, the IPO has internal rules against such an outcome—that have never been tested in court, they said.

"Past results suggest how Buehler, Brown and other candidates performed in this race will be a bellwether for November," Harris said. "If Starnes wins, he could have a huge impact on the general election running on a platform of campaign finance reform. As third party elections go in this country, it's pretty high stakes race with a cliffhanger finish."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314841

Reported Deaths: 3624
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah51325643
Washington35086277
Marion32748396
Clackamas26680275
Lane24145248
Jackson21050257
Deschutes16703103
Umatilla12736125
Douglas10795188
Linn1051487
Josephine8685169
Yamhill752099
Klamath651892
Polk629171
Malheur485567
Benton463728
Coos420669
Columbia325439
Jefferson315347
Lincoln277930
Union274838
Wasco242339
Crook213639
Clatsop213225
Tillamook182023
Baker176123
Morrow168621
Curry167817
Hood River163435
Harney82319
Grant7848
Lake6988
Wallowa50811
Gilliam1374
Sherman1283
Wheeler651
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4651497

Reported Deaths: 68087
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles144634825870
Riverside3583834802
San Diego3502674021
San Bernardino3475745507
Orange3150815355
Sacramento1507202105
Santa Clara1407321841
Kern1362881521
Fresno1361631889
Alameda1164051330
Ventura978991120
San Joaquin975341615
Contra Costa95858924
Stanislaus808921235
Tulare73111896
San Mateo52311607
San Francisco52008605
Monterey49485565
Solano44247312
Santa Barbara43189500
Sonoma39476378
Merced39446536
Placer36612364
Imperial34285755
Kings30179285
San Luis Obispo28351313
Madera21749263
Butte21379231
Shasta20763279
Santa Cruz20176211
Yolo19192239
Marin17127242
El Dorado16037127
Sutter13122153
Napa1228795
Yuba928061
Nevada850185
Humboldt831988
Tehama827784
San Benito709567
Mendocino691176
Lassen637927
Tuolumne616993
Lake605887
Amador493059
Glenn399030
Siskiyou391541
Calaveras342766
Del Norte339034
Colusa291018
Inyo166739
Mono14935
Plumas12406
Mariposa100712
Trinity72610
Modoc6278
Unassigned2120
Sierra1980
Alpine1000
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