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: 178110

Reported Deaths: 2468
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah35509570
Washington23824229
Marion20503299
Clackamas15674204
Lane11854144
Jackson10123129
Umatilla800883
Deschutes736872
Linn425664
Yamhill415575
Klamath362559
Polk350352
Malheur343558
Josephine311762
Douglas307066
Benton280219
Jefferson208332
Coos199231
Columbia157526
Union142024
Wasco132028
Lincoln131220
Hood River114029
Morrow108515
Clatsop9118
Crook90719
Baker88114
Curry6069
Tillamook5893
Grant4314
Lake4197
Harney3156
Wallowa1585
Gilliam571
Sherman571
Wheeler261
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3727913

Reported Deaths: 61309
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles123039823736
Riverside2977704555
San Bernardino2953154572
San Diego2759123684
Orange2693524910
Santa Clara1175382025
Kern1081311335
Sacramento1019061653
Fresno1008381654
Alameda857621481
Ventura803981002
San Joaquin718991340
Contra Costa67300782
Stanislaus606771035
Tulare49469831
Monterey43346380
San Mateo41318560
San Francisco36194529
Santa Barbara33926445
Solano32126244
Merced31321454
Sonoma29747318
Imperial28052719
Kings22825246
Placer21979283
San Luis Obispo21038260
Madera16309240
Santa Cruz15759204
Marin13883227
Yolo13606205
Shasta11779219
Butte11643196
El Dorado9831109
Napa973779
Sutter9322110
Yuba613844
San Benito599863
Lassen568524
Tehama545957
Nevada450575
Tuolumne409164
Mendocino399847
Humboldt369738
Amador363247
Lake342143
Glenn236125
Colusa220816
Calaveras206652
Siskiyou197921
Inyo141938
Del Norte12927
Mono12744
Plumas6976
Modoc4924
Mariposa4317
Trinity3985
Sierra1100
Alpine880
Unassigned680
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