Elections 2020

Thurston County officials reflect on complicated, successful election season

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An extraordinary election cycle came to a close as Thurston County officials certified the results of the 2020 general election this afternoon.

“I really think that all of election staff just deserve huge kudos,” said Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall. “They pulled off a nearly flawless election under really challenging circumstances. Not only a presidential election, but during a pandemic.”

Hall was joined by Thurston County Prosecutor Jon Tunheim and Commissioner John Hutchings. The three form the Canvassing Board, and vote to certify election results and oversee the process.

Tuesday capped off a season filled with unprecedented safety measures. COVID-19 required a slew of changes to protocol and practice. A significant part of the South Puget Sound Community College campus was transformed to allow for drive-through voting services. Masked election workers handed voters ballots using long-handled nets.

And through it all, the most contentious presidential election in memory and untruthful comments about voting by mail from outgoing President Donald Trump cast doubt on a system of voting safely utilized by Washington voters for over a decade. In a previous interview with The JOLT, Hall said Washington’s voting system was placed under a national microscope, as other states prepared similar vote-by-mail systems in the wake of the pandemic.

Despite the stack of complications, Hall and local officials spoke of an election process that ended without a hitch.

Total voter turnout came to 83.83 percent, higher than the two previous elections but lower than the 2008 general election, which had 86.12 percent turnout. However, with more people registered to vote in the county than ever before, 2020 saw the most ballots returned in county history — 169,231 ballots were counted.

According to the final results:

  • Carolina Mejia beat C. Davis for Thurston County Commissioner District 1 with 57.89 percent.
  • Incumbent Gary Edwards won the County Commissioner District 2 seat with a slight lead — 50.63 percent total — over challenger Michael Steadman.
  • Sharonda D. Amamilo won Thurston County Superior Court Judge Position 8 with 59.54 percent of the vote, defeating Scott Ahlf.

None of the races were close enough to warrant a recount.

Check out the full list of election results at: https://results.vote.wa.gov/results/20201103/thurston/

Alleged Fraudulent Ballots

Three (3) ballots that were received were likely fraudulent, said Hall on Tuesday. Each one had signatures, which may have been forged. The names on the ballots belonged to deceased people.

The results of the investigation are being sent to the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office, the Washington Secretary of State and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“I certainly look forward to seeing those referrals,” said Prosecutor Tunheim during Tuesday’s meeting. He said his office will launch an investigation.

Those three instances of possible fraud aside, Hall said she is “100 percent” confident that no instances of hacking or interference occurred in Thurston County, or in any jurisdiction in the state. Commissioner John Hutchings, during Tuesday’s meeting, said he’s received emails from citizens expressing concern about election security. Hall said she’s received similar emails, and said the concerns were not based in fact. Hall said she and other auditors had daily phone calls Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman. She noted cybersecurity measures that have been in place largely in the county, largely with training and cooperation from the Department of Homeland Security.

“I am 100 percent positive that no systems in Washington state were compromised,” said Hall.

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