Election results certified, Matthes concedes commissioner race

The Kitsap County Auditor's Office has certified the results from the Nov. 4 general election, finalizing the numbers on Tuesday for what became the county’s largest voter turnout in history.

“The whole election went smoothly,” said Elections Supervisor Dolores Gilmore. “We did everything right, and planned ahead.”

There were 125,881 votes counted, which represented an 87 percent voter turnout. This was 2 percent more than what Gilmore had projected.

The certification also finalized the election of Democrat Charlotte Garrido as South Kitsap commissioner, by a margin of 1.4 percent over Republican Tim Matthes.

Garrido always outpolled Matthes, although the margin narrowed during later vote counts. Consequently, Matthes refused to concede the race until the election was certified but said he had no plans to request a recount.

Matthes said he planned to place a congratulatory call to Garrido late Tuesday, and distributed a concession statement to the media.

“I want to thank all of you that spent your time, energy and money working on this campaign,” Matthes wrote. “We may have came up just a little short of our goal, but we gave it our best effort. This has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever undertaken.”

The South Kitsap commissioner’s contest was arguably one of the only local races that lacked a negative element. Some of this cordiality could continue, as Matthes said that Garrido “said many of the right things” during the campaign.

Matthes said he plans to stay involved and remain on the Port Orchard Planning Commission and the Kitsap Boundary Review Board.

He also expects to hold Garrido to her word.

“I will be there to make sure she keeps her campaign promises,” he said. “When she was in office before, she leaned toward the Democrats. During this campaign she said she has learned a lot since her last term and would be more balanced in her decision-making. She promised to listen to all sides of an argument before making a decision. I will hold her to that.”

Garrido served as South Kitsap commissioner from 1997 to 2000, but was defeated in the 2000 Democratic primary. She also ran for the seat in 2004 as the Democratic nominee, but lost to incumbent Republican Jan Angel.

Matthes earned the most votes in the August primary, during which former Planning Commissioner Monty Mahan was eliminated.

In the time between the election and certification, the Auditor’s Office worked to count unsigned and unclear ballots.

It sent signature challenges to 826 voters and notification to 197 voters who had not signed their ballots. In both cases, about half of the voters responded.

Gilmore said some of the non-matched signatures may have been attempts at voter fraud, where one person signed a ballot issued to another. She said all potential fraud cases will be forwarded to the county prosecutor.

This general election was the first to be held after the county instituted all-mail balloting. This resulted in a much smaller number of provisional ballots (387 down from 2,918 in 2004), where voters who have lost their ballots go to the polling place to get a replacement.

This year’s primary was in August, a month earlier than in previous years.

Gilmore said this gave military voters more time to turn in their ballots, and that 5,623 overseas ballots were received by the county.

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