It became apparent after Friday's results that—barring a major error in the ballot counts—Nikkita Oliver likely would not gain enough ground against Cary Moon to secure that second-place seat for the November general election. That became clearer on Monday. Still the candidates, and nearly every news outlet besides King 5, waited.
Oliver continued to close in on the gap, and her supporters continued to push for more votes those final days by chasing challenged ballots; their efforts came through with more than 100 volunteers signed up. This week Oliver gained significant ground, from 1.3 percentage points on Friday to 0.7 percentage points away on Tuesday—close to triggering an automatic machine recount, but still not enough to come in second place.
“OIiver’s campaign has mobilized and inspired thousands of people. Rushing forward to claim a decisive outcome while some ballots are in limbo would only create distrust,” Moon said on Friday.
Many of Oliver's supporters are young, low-income, disenfranchised voters and people of color who may not feel the same enthusiasm for Moon as a candidate. Both Moon and Oliver on Monday said they would wait to declare victory or concede until every vote is counted, and so far they've stuck to their word.
“We’re within 1 percentage point, so we’re far from conceding,” Oliver said in a released statement Monday. “I believe in letting the process play itself out, so we’ll wait until every vote is counted. We’re moving in the right direction, and we have faith that the voters of Seattle want us in the general election.”
Oliver trails behind Moon with just a 1,362-vote margin, or 0.7 percentage points. King County Elections estimated 1,200 more ballots will be counted, though that depends on how many challenged ballots will make it through. But even with high estimates of both ballot counts and percentages for Oliver, she would still fall short of the votes she needs to beat Moon. The Seattle Times finally called the race Tuesday, with The Stranger still being cautious.
The race could qualify for an automatic recount if Oliver's gains continue. It would trigger a machine recount if the difference is less than 2,000 votes and a 0.5 percentage point difference in the total number of ballots between the two candidates.
Oliver could also request a recount; her campaign would have to pay for all costs associated with it (15 cents per ballot for a machine recount, as well as employee services and supplies needed). That is, unless results change.
Oliver still has $53,166 left for her campaign, according to the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission. King County Elections chief of staff Kendall Le Van Hodson told PubliCola it would likely cost more than that if applying the same numbers from a 2015 recount, for which the cost was about $1.55 per ballot.
Jenny Durkan secured her first-place seat on primary night, though her share of the votes since fell from 31.6 percent to 28 percent.
Update on Wednesday:
Wednesday's additional ballot counts didn't change much.
Cary Moon continued to hold her second-place lead over Nikkita Oliver by 0.7 percentage points, though the gap closed in again slightly from a 1,362- to 1,301-vote margin. Still, neither candidate issued statements Wednesday and the campaign said they'd continue to chase ballots. Oliver received about 40 percent of the new votes.
Are there enough ballots remaining for Oliver to theoretically win? Yes—1,625 outstanding signature ballots and 20 left to count, according to King County Elections. But typically only 50-60 percent of those challenged ballots get counted. Though Oliver made significant ground in the late counts—40 percent was a huge jump from 13.9 percent on primary night—but following those percentages, it wouldn't be enough.
Updated August 9, 2017, at 10:56am: This post includes the percentage of votes Durkan received on primary night.