EMS levy pulling through despite early indications of a loss

After days on the decline, votes are starting to sway in favor of Whatcom County’s Emergency Medical Services levy but it’s still too close to call.

If passed, the measure would impose a tax of 29.5 cents per $1,000 of a home’s assessed value over six years to fund Emergency Medical Services in Whatcom County.

To win, the measure requires a 60 percent super-majority “Yes” vote to pass. According to numbers tallied on November 22, the measure was winning with 60.013 percent – that’s 64,061 “Yes” votes and 42,684 “No” votes, a winning margin of only 14 votes.

Whatcom County auditor Debbie Adelstein said an estimated 900 ballots were originally challenged but that number now stands at 804 following review by the Whatcom County Canvassing Board. The majority of challenged ballots were due to a mismatched or missing signature or identification, among other reasons.

Voters with challenged ballots have until November 28, the day before results are certified, to respond to requests for additional or clarifying information.

Close initiative races do not automatically spark a recount, unlike candidate races. A recount must be requested by five registered voters who must make a $0.25 per vote deposit which, in this case, would total nearly $27,000 to pay for the cost of a recount.

The deposit would be forfeited in the event that the outcome did not change.

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