Voters approve both Kent School District levies

King County Elections: final tallies close; tech, capital levy prevails by 10 votes

The Kent School District’s two replacement levies on the Feb. 13 special election ballot officially passed by narrow margins, according to the King County Elections’ final results released Friday afternoon.

Proposition No. 2, a tech and capital improvements measure, passed by only 10 votes, 11,804 (50.02 percent) to 11,794 (49.98 percent).

Proposition No. 1, the replacement and operations levy, passed with 50.53 percent yes votes (12,790) and 49.47 percent no votes (12,524).

The King County Canvassing Board met at the King County Elections office in Renton on Friday afternoon to certify the election.

“We are so grateful for the voter support of our students, with both measures passing, now the responsibility is on us to be visible and accountable in how we go about spending those taxpayer dollars, and we don’t take that for granted,” Kent School District Superintendent Calvin Watts said in a statement Friday. “We are excited to move forward together.”

Out of initial 280 signature-challenged ballots, 104 were resolved but 176 were not resolved by the Thursday deadline, and therefore were not counted, according to King County Elections spokesman Kafia Hosh in an email Friday.

“Signature challenges occur when a voter does not sign the back of the ballot return envelope or when the signature on the return envelope does not match the signature(s) in their voter registration record,” Hosh said. “Voters have until 4:30 p.m. the day before certification (Thursday) to fix the issue with their signature in order for their ballot to be counted.”

For every ballot that is returned during an election, King County Elections staff compare the signature on the back of the return envelope to the signature(s) in the voter registration record for that voter, according to the elections website. This process is required by Washington State law in order to make sure that the voter the ballot was mailed to is the voter who filled out and returned the ballot. Any ballot return envelope with a signature that does not match is flagged and reviewed by a second staff member before being challenged and set aside until the voter returns a signature challenge form.

Despite the tight count, there are no recounts for local measures under state law, according to the Secretary of State’s website. A recount could be requested – the cost would just have to be covered by whomever requested it.

Any group of five or more registered voters may file a written application for a recount of the votes or a portion of the votes cast upon any question or issue, according to state law. They shall designate one of the members of the group as chair and shall indicate the voting residence of each member of the group. An application for a recount of the votes cast for an office or on a ballot measure must be filed with the officer with whom filings are made for the jurisdiction.

An application for a recount must be filed within two business days after the county canvassing board has declared the official results of the election for the office or issue for which the recount is requested.

Proposition No. 1 is for two years (2019, 2020) and will raise a total of $94 million to help fund nearly 20 percent of the district’s overall budget for its more than 27,000 students. It will fund about one in every five of the more than 3,500 employees in the district.

The measure will replace the four-year levy voters approved in 2014. Funds will go toward day-to-day operations, including safety and security at schools, special education, transportation, music, art and athletic programs.

Proposition No. 2 is for six years. Funds will pay for technology improvements and district facility maintenance not covered by the 2016 bond measure approved by voters. The levy will bring in an estimated $146 million over the six years. The measure will help make sure each student by 2019 has a laptop or laptop-like device and fund 371 facility maintenance projects from new water pipes to new carpet.

After the Feb. 13 initial count, Proposition No. 1 had 51.14 percent no votes (10,086) and 48.86 percent yes votes (9,637). Proposition No. 2 had 51.61 percent no votes (9,445) and 48.39 percent yes votes (8,855).

Voter turnout in King County was 31.82 percent of 732,461 registered voters. Election officials counted 233,082 ballots.