SeaTac’s $15 minimum wage appears close to losing in latest tally

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From our sister site The SeaTac Blog:

by Jack Mayne

The opponents of SeaTac’s $15 an hour minimum wage law are within 43 votes of moving to the win column with an estimated 900 or so uncounted ballots.

A report at 8:30 p.m. Friday night from King County Elections has Yes vote for the proposition at 2,544 and No vote at 2,501, an effective election dead heat.

Each report of returns since election day has whittled down the once small victory for the Yes side. On election evening, the measure was passing by 261 votes, which went to 237 on Wednesday, to 179 on Thursday, to 55 votes on Friday afternoon and just a 43-vote plurality by mid-evening Friday.

It is likely that no matter what future return counts show, a recount will probably be demanded, most likely by the unions supporting the measure. But the question is, will these labor union want to pay the thousands of dollars for a recount of the estimated 6,000 plus-or-minor ballots.

In close elections for people, the state or county will pick up the cost of a recount, but this is not true for ballot measures, where one of the groups involved in the campaign must foot the bill.

Then, there is the complicated matter of ballots set aside for a variety of technical errors, such as voters who forget to sign the ballot envelop or the voter who may have changed his or her vote on the ballot, or a host of other technical reasons. Each questioned ballot must be considered, often taken by a person to the voter for clarification, then a committee of experts must rule on each of these individual ballots, a time consuming and costly enterprise. It could take several days, even weeks for a “final” vote count.

The drama must wait until next week for more counting by King County Elections and then decisions by both sides on how to proceed.

Several observers are hoping it won’t be December before we know whether SeaTac has a $15 minimum wage and businesses have a lot of hurdles to jump in 2014 – and if the lawyers don’t sponge up a lot of time and money battling the measure.

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