In the latest King County Elections vote drop, which included just over 14,000 Seattle votes, city council member Richard Conlin got 44.63 percent to challenger Kshama Sawant's 55.29 percent, echoing a trend that has persisted in all the late vote counts so far: Sawant, who trailed Conlin 46.3 to 53.56 on election night, continues to gain ground (although this vote count is very marginally less impressive than the one at 8:30 last night, when she got 55.8 percent).
Overall, Conlin lost a net total of 1,500 votes in the latest count.
An estimated 40,000 votes remain to be counted; if Sawant wins just over 53 percent of the outstanding votes, she'll narrowly defeat Conlin. If her 55 percent lead holds, however, she'll win by just over 1,300 votes.
Almost any outcome (including that 1,300-vote Sawant victory) seems likely at this point to trigger a recount. If two candidates are within half a percentage point and 2,000 votes of each other, King County Elections must do a machine recount; if they're within 150 votes and a quarter of a percentage point or less, the elections department must do a manual (hand) recount. Currently, Conlin leads Sawant by 2,691 votes, and by less than 2 percent.
Additionally, a candidate can request a recount even if the vote totals aren't within that margin. But they have to pay for it themselves: 25 cents a vote for a hand recount, and 15 cents a vote for a machine recount.
Deep-in-the-weeds caveat: The very, very final votes that are usually counted are those that were flagged for problems at the beginning of the vote count (faulty signatures, for example), so they're more likely to reflect the more pro-Conlin early votes. Usually, there are too few such votes to matter, but in a race that seems likely to be decided by hundreds of votes instead of the usual thousands or tens of thousands, they could matter.
The next vote drop is tonight at 8:30.