Chapter 18.35
BALLOT COUNTING

Sections:

18.35.012    Counting ballots – General.

18.35.015    Counting ballots – Write-in votes.

18.35.020    Repealed.

18.35.030    Ballot counting – Use of ballot tabulation systems.

18.35.040    Ballot counting – Tests and security.

18.35.060    Repealed.

18.35.070    Certificate of election.

18.35.080    Counting absentee by mail ballots.

18.35.081    Counting early ballots.

18.35.085    Repealed.

18.35.090    Counting questioned ballots.

18.35.095    Counting special needs ballots.

18.35.100    Counting and canvass of returns, certificate of election.

18.35.110    Determination of tie votes.

18.35.120    Preserving and destroying ballots.

18.35.012 Counting ballots – General.

A. The ballots shall be counted by the ballot tabulation system selected by the clerk.

B. At no time during the tallying of votes may anyone but the election officials handle the ballots. The ballots shall not be marked in any way by anyone during the tallying.

C. Hand-counted ballots shall be tabulated according to the following rules:

1. A voter may mark a ballot only by the use of cross marks, “X” marks, diagonal, horizontal, or vertical marks, solid marks, stars, circles, asterisks, checks or plus signs that are clearly spaced in the oval opposite the name of the candidate or proposition the voter desires to designate.

2. Failure to properly mark a ballot as to one or more candidates does not itself invalidate the entire ballot.

3. If a voter marks fewer names than there are persons to be elected to the office, a vote shall be counted for each candidate properly marked.

4. If a voter marks more names than there are persons to be elected to the office, the votes for that office shall not be counted.

5. Improper marks on the ballot shall not be counted and shall not invalidate marks for candidates or propositions properly made.

6. An erasure or correction invalidates only that section of the ballot in which it appears, unless the intent of the voter is clear.

7. The mark specified in subsection (C)(1) of this section shall be counted only if it is substantially inside the oval provided, or touching the oval so as to indicate clearly that the voter intended the particular oval to be designated.

D. Ballots may not be counted before 8:00 p.m., local time, on the day of the election. (Ord. 12-009 § 14, 2012; Ord. 620 § 10, 2004; Ord. 546 § 33, 1999)

18.35.015 Counting ballots – Write-in votes.

A. Write-in votes shall be tallied only if the total number of write-in votes for an office exceeds the smallest number of votes cast for a candidate for that office whose name is printed on the ballot.

B. Votes for a write-in candidate shall not be counted unless that candidate has filed a nominating petition with the clerk in accordance with PMC 18.15.020.

C. In order to vote for a write-in candidate, the voter must write in the candidate’s name in the space provided and, in addition, fill in the oval opposite the candidate’s name in accordance with PMC 18.35.012(C)(1).

D. Writing in the name of a candidate whose name is printed on the ballot does not invalidate a write-in vote unless the canvass board determines, on the basis of other evidence, that the ballot was so marked for the purpose of identifying the ballot.

E. A vote for a write-in candidate shall be counted if the oval is filled in for that candidate and if the name of the candidate, as it appears on the write-in nominating petition, or the last name of the candidate is written in the space provided.

F. In counting votes for a write-in candidate, the canvass board shall disregard any abbreviation, misspelling, or other minor variation in the form of the name of a candidate if the intention of the voter can be ascertained.

G. Affixing stickers on a ballot in an election to vote for a write-in candidate is prohibited and that section of the ballot shall not be counted. (Ord. 12-009 § 14, 2012; Ord. 07-011 § 5, 2007; Ord. 620 § 10, 2004; Ord. 546 § 34, 1999; Ord. 534 § 10, 1998; Ord. 515 § 3, 1997)

18.35.020 Ballot boards and teams.

Repealed by Ord. 12-009. (Ord. 620 § 10, 2004; Ord. 546 § 35, 1999; Ord. 534 § 11, 1998; Ord. 515 § 3, 1997)

18.35.030 Ballot counting – Use of ballot tabulation system.

The clerk shall designate the ballot tabulation system to be used in the counting of the ballots or use the same system designated by the borough clerk. The clerk may negotiate and contract with the state or a private company for the needed ballot tabulation services or use the same contract as designated by the borough clerk. (Ord. 12-009 § 14, 2012; Ord. 620 § 10, 2004; Ord. 534 § 12, 1998; Ord. 515 § 3, 1997)

18.35.040 Ballot counting – Tests and security.

No later than one week before the election, the ballot tabulation system shall be tested in the presence of, and to the satisfaction of, the review board. Upon completion of the testing, a security seal shall be placed on the tabulation system for delivery to the precincts. (Ord. 12-009 § 14, 2012; Ord. 620 § 10, 2004; Ord. 546 § 36, 1999; Ord. 534 § 13, 1998; Ord. 515 § 3, 1997)

18.35.060 Preserving and destroying ballots.

Repealed by Ord. 12-009. (Ord. 620 § 10, 2004; Ord. 571 § 13, 2001; Ord. 546 § 38, 1999; Ord. 515 § 3, 1997)

18.35.070 Certificate of election.

Upon closing the polls, the election officials shall count the ballots as set out in the election procedures. When all votes have been counted, the election officials shall prepare a certificate of election, stating the number of votes each candidate or proposition received. Each election official shall sign the certificate. The certificate and counting material shall be delivered to the clerk. (Ord. 12-009 § 14, 2012; Ord. 620 § 10, 2004; Ord. 546 § 39,1999; Ord. 515 § 3, 1997)

18.35.080 Counting absentee by mail ballots.

A. The absentee by mail ballots shall be delivered to the canvass board for review.

B. Absentee by Mail Ballot. To be counted in the election, an absentee by mail ballot shall be postmarked on or before election day and be received by the clerk no later than the third calendar day following the election. If no postmark or readable postmark is contained on an absentee by mail ballot envelope, the date of the voter’s signature, as attested to by the official witness or other witnesses, will be used in determining if the ballot was voted on or before election day. Absentee by mail ballot envelopes received after the canvass board has completed absentee by mail ballot counting shall not be opened, but shall be marked “no count” with the date of receipt noted on the ballot envelope.

1. Absentee by mail ballot envelopes shall be examined by the canvass board who shall determine whether the voter is qualified to vote at the election and whether the ballot has been properly cast.

2. An absentee by mail ballot shall not be counted if the voter’s certification on the return envelope is not signed and attested as required by law.

3. If the voter is qualified and the ballot has been properly cast, the return envelope shall be opened and the ballot envelope shall be mixed with the other ballot envelopes.

4. The ballots shall then be removed from the secrecy envelopes and shall be mixed with other ballots for counting.

5. The ballot shall be counted according to the rules for determining properly marked ballots.

C. If the voter is not qualified or the ballot has not been properly cast, the clerk shall notify the voter, in writing, of the reason the ballot was not counted.

D. The rejected ballot shall be placed in a container which shall be labeled “no count ballots.” The envelopes shall be retained with the other election records and destroyed as set out in PMC 18.35.120. (Ord. 18-003 § 8, 2018; Ord. 12-009 § 14, 2012; Ord. 06-013 § 4, 2006; Ord. 620 § 10, 2004; Ord. 546 § 40, 1999; Ord. 515 § 3, 1997)

18.35.081 Counting early ballots.

A. The early ballots shall be delivered to the city canvass board for counting as determined by the clerk. The tabulation of early ballots may not begin until the canvass board has identified and segregated ballots voted early by voters who also cast ballots in another manner in the election.

B. Early ballot envelopes shall be reviewed by the canvass board to determine whether the voter is qualified to vote at the election and whether the ballot has been properly cast.

C. An early ballot shall be counted despite failure of the early-voting official to properly sign and date the voter’s certificate as attesting official.

D. An early ballot shall be counted despite voter’s failure to sign the early ballot envelope, provided the voter signed the early voter register and the canvass board has determined the voter is qualified and the ballot has been properly cast.

E. If the voter is qualified and the ballot has been properly cast, the early ballot envelope shall be opened and the secrecy envelope shall be mixed with other secrecy envelopes for counting.

F. The ballots shall then be removed from the secrecy envelopes and shall be mixed with the other ballots for counting.

G. If the ballot has not been properly cast, the clerk shall notify the voter, in writing, of the reason the ballot was not counted. The rejected ballot shall be placed in a container which shall be labeled “no count ballots” and shall be destroyed as set out in PMC 18.35.120. (Ord. 16-005 § 3, 2016; Ord. 12-009 § 14, 2012; Ord. 06-013 § 5, 2006; Ord. 620 § 10, 2004; Ord. 592 § 22, 2002; Ord. 571 § 14, 2001)

18.35.085 Questioned voter notification.

Repealed by Ord. 12-009. (Ord. 08-010 § 3, 2008; Ord. 620 § 10, 2004; Ord. 546 § 41, 1999)

18.35.090 Counting questioned ballots.

A. Questioned ballots shall be delivered to the city canvass board for counting as determined by the clerk.

B. After research, the canvass board by majority vote may refuse to accept the question and count the ballot of a person properly questioned.

C. A questioned ballot shall be counted despite failure of the questioned voting official to properly sign and date the voter’s certificate as attesting official.

D. A questioned ballot shall be counted despite voter’s failure to sign the questioned ballot envelope, provided the voter signed the questioned ballot register and the canvass board has determined the voter is qualified and the ballot has been properly cast.

E. If the voter is qualified and the ballot has been properly cast, the questioned ballot envelope shall be opened and the secrecy envelope shall be mixed with other secrecy envelopes for counting.

F. The ballots shall then be removed from the secrecy envelopes and shall be mixed with the other ballots for counting.

G. If the question is accepted and the ballot is refused, the clerk shall notify the questioned voter, in writing, of the reason the ballot was not counted. The rejected ballots shall be placed in a container which shall be labeled “no count ballots” and shall be preserved as set out in PMC 18.35.120. (Ord. 16-005 § 4, 2016; Ord. 12-009 § 14, 2012; Ord. 06-013 § 6, 2006; Ord. 620 § 10, 2004; Ord. 546 § 42, 1999; Ord. 515 § 3, 1997)

18.35.095 Counting special needs ballots.

A. Special needs ballots shall be delivered to the canvass board for counting as determined by the clerk.

B. After research, the canvass board by majority vote may accept a special needs ballot. A special needs ballot shall be counted despite the failure of a voting official to properly sign and date the voter’s certificate as attesting official. If the ballot has been properly cast and is accepted, the ballot envelope shall be opened and the ballot envelopes shall be mixed with the other ballot envelopes. The ballots shall be removed from the secrecy envelopes and shall be mixed with other ballots for counting.

C. If the ballot has not been properly cast, the clerk shall notify the voter, in writing, of the reason the ballot was not counted. The rejected ballot shall be placed in a container which shall be labeled “no count ballots.” The envelopes shall be retained with the other election records and destroyed as set out in PMC 18.35.120. (Ord. 12-009 § 14, 2012)

18.35.100 Counting and canvass of returns, certificate of election.

A. Not later than the Monday following each election, the canvass board shall meet and shall:

1. In full view of those present, judge the validity of absentee by mail, questioned and special needs ballots, open and tally accepted ballots, and compile the total votes cast in the election;

2. Review the precinct certificates of results for accuracy;

3. Correct all obvious errors;

4. Recommend a recount of the results of the precinct for that portion of the returns where a mistake has been made which cannot be corrected under subsection (A)(3) of this section;

5. Report any irregularities in the election or discrepancies in the count of the ballots in its report to the council; and

6. Certify the validity of all votes cast and sign a certification of results of the count.

B. After receiving the canvass board report and as soon as practicable after the counting of the ballots, but not later than the second Tuesday after the election, the council shall meet in public session and examine all election returns. The examination may be postponed for cause from day to day, but there shall be no more than three postponements.

C. If the canvass board reports irregularities in the election, the council shall determine whether the irregularities are so serious as to deny a meaningful vote of the qualified voters of the city. If the canvass board reports a discrepancy in the count of the ballots, the council may order a recount of the votes. The council may order an investigation of any irregularities or discrepancies. The council may exclude votes cast or declare the entire election invalid if necessary to assure a fair election. If the council concludes that the election is not valid, it shall order another election. The election shall be conducted promptly as a special election and according to procedures established by code.

D. Unless the council orders an investigation or unless a contest has been previously filed pursuant to PMC 18.40.020, the council shall declare the election valid and certify the election results. The council shall certify results not in question immediately and shall complete an investigation or contest procedures as soon as practicable to assure prompt certification.

E. To certify the election results the council shall enter the determination in a resolution of the council along with the following information:

1. The total number of poll, early-voter, absentee by mail, questioned, and special needs ballots cast in the election;

2. The offices, names, and number of votes counted for each candidate at the election;

3. The propositions voted upon at the election; and

4. The number of votes counted for each proposition voted upon. (Ord. 18-003 § 9, 2018; Ord. 12-009 § 14, 2012; Ord. 620 § 10, 2004; Ord. 592 § 23, 2002; Ord. 571 § 15, 2001; Ord. 546 § 4, 1999; Ord. 515 § 3, 1997)

18.35.110 Determination of tie votes.

A. If two or more candidates tie in having the highest number of votes for the same office for which there is to be elected only one candidate, the clerk shall notify the candidates who are tied. The clerk shall immediately proceed with the recount of votes in the manner provided by Chapter 18.45 PMC.

B. If after a recount and appeal two or more candidates tie in having the highest number of votes for the same office, the clerk shall notify the candidates who are tied. The clerk shall notify the candidates of a reasonably suitable time and place to determine the successful candidate by coin toss if two are tied, and by lot if more than two are tied. After the determination has been made by coin toss or lot, the clerk shall certify the election winner. (Ord. 12-009 § 14, 2012; Ord. 620 § 10, 2004; Ord. 515 § 3, 1997)

18.35.120 Preserving and destroying ballots.

The clerk shall preserve all official ballots in a secure manner, unopened and unaltered, for not less than 30 days from the date of election certification, or, in cases where the election is contested, until 30 days after the final resolution of the contest. The clerk may permit the inspection of the ballots upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction. Upon the expiration of the preservation period, the clerk shall destroy the ballots in compliance with the records management procedures. (Ord. 12-009 § 14, 2012)