Election results: Nov 6 General, 2018

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Click here for Whatcom County Auditor page. Click here for State Election page.

11 pm Thur, Nov 8

The 42nd District is probably decided. There may be recounts and there is a slight chance one of the three contests will change. So, that is the disclaimer.

Doug Ericksen has been reelected as state senator from the 42nd District, with Pinky Vargas coming within ½ of a percentage point of winning. 200 vote difference out of 71,458. Ericksen has 4 more years. He has a chance to better represent his constituency of conservative rural folks - or continue his hijinks of trips to Cambodia and seeking Federal employment. He has a fresh start. Pinky Vargas ran a superb campaign and she is obviously a person with a future in our community. I expect to see her run for higher office beyond our Bellingham council. Soon.

Democrat Sharon Shewmake has produced an amazing upset victory over Vincent Buys for state representative from the 42nd District. Few that I talked to before the election gave her much chance. Only one political junkie of all that I talk with told me weeks ago that they thought she would win because of how hard she was campaigning and how much Buy’s supporters were not. Buys upset Kelli Linville 8 years ago by campaigning hard while she slacked off, being sure of a win. The tables were turned on Buys. So it goes. Sharon has over a 1% lead with fewer ballots left to count than are in her lead. She has won definitely.

Republican Luanne Van Werven is reelected to a 2nd term as representative from the 42nd District. She leads Justin Boneau by less than ½ percentage point. For Luanne to win by such a narrow sliver of votes in her own north Whatcom County is a sharp rebuke to her. She is very well known in county politics and had name recognition advantage. She is a noisy and adversarial politician. This slimmest of win cannot be reassuring to her.

For the 42nd District, the blue wave was real and this seat should be in play in the next election. All three who end up being elected will know that they cannot take reelection for granted.

It is now obvious that in the 40th state senate race, Debra Lekanoff will win. With over 30,000 Skagit County ballots still to be counted, and with the farmlands more conservative, her lead should shrink some but she simply has too much of a lead. Most called this race on Tuesday evening. I watched votes swing wildly in the primary because the 40th District is a gerrymandered district with disparate constituencies. Anacortes, San Juan Islands, south Whatcom County, Skagit farmland, a turkey head zig into Burlington and Mount Vernon - a catch-all. But she will win. Sharon win is big as this catch-all district rejected the racist campaign of Michael Petrish. This should be reassuring for all of us - conservatives and liberals.

The really big loser is Tom Pasma - and the political junkies know why. Sad. You can read Alex Ramel’s letter “Dog Whistle Racism” which links to Sandy Robson’s article that exposed Pasma’s support for Petrish’s racist campaign. Tom, who has run for office several times over the years as a Democrat, will no longer be a player in Democratic party politics. He rolled the dice and lost. And showed us his stripes. Dog whistle racism. Thanks to Alex and Sandy for calling it out.

Finally, congratulations to Atul Deshmane for his upset victory in winning a seat on the three commissioner Public Utility District of Whatcom County. He is now in a position as powerful as a Port commissioner - in the PUD that most people know little about.

This completes this coverage of the election. There may be recounts and maybe a reversal but these are for another post.

5:46 pm, Wed, Nov 7

Pinky Vargas still trails Doug Ericksen but has closed from the gap from 451 votes Tue eve to 122 votes this Wed evening. Several political junkies have told me that late mail in returns tend to go liberal and Democratic. With 3,000 more ballots to count - at a minimum - there is every chance this will switch. The two candidates are now less than ½ percentage point apart and therefore there will be a mandatory recount. This could be decided by this Friday or stretch until after Thanksgiving.

Democrat and challenger Sharon Shewmake is lengthening her lead over Vincent Buys for 42nd District state representative. She has moved from a 50.11% to 50.59% and is now beyond the ½ percentage point difference. Buys has 49.41%. Sharon is without question going to win this legislative seat. And this will be quite an upset as Buys was a well liked person even by those who did not agree with his politics. He is a genuinely nice person who has represented the conservative values of many in the county well. So Buy’s loss can be chalked up to the Blue Wave. Yes, Virginia, there was a Blue Wave.

Justin Boneau is closing on Luanne Van Werven - just slightly less than Pinky’s gain on Ericksen. He still trails 49.81% to Luanne’s 50.19%.

Atul Deshmane appears to have won his challenge to sitting PUD commissioner Paul Kenner - lengthening his lead to over 52%. Atul has won. This is also an impact of the Blue Wave, as this sort of upset of an incumbent is so rare. Reminds me of when we Michael McAuley upset Port Commissioner Doug Smith. The good ol’ boys were shocked.

Skagit County may post more returns later this evening. So I may followup with an update on Lekanoff and Petrish. Else, will update tomorrow, Thursday, at about pm.

5 pm, Wed, Nov 7

We are expecting Whatcom County ballot updates any minute now. I noted last night that Skagit County was very slow in counting ballots. Well, we now know why. Their ballots were printed and folded with a crease right through a row of check boxes - thus totally confusing the computer ballot processing. Up to 75% of the ballots are defective, according to an article online at the Skagit Valley Herald. Indeed, only 3,000 new results were posted this afternoon - with more promised for 6 pm.

And thus, a delay in being able to safely state that Debra Lekanoff has been elected the 40th District state representative. Her lead seems insurmountable, but with perhaps 40,00 Skagit County ballots not yet tallied, it is not a sure thing yet.

9:06 pm, Tue, Nov 6

Our 42nd District Representative races are both virtually tied and may not be decided until Friday. Luanne Van Werven with 50.67% barely leads Justin Boneau with 49.33%. Even closer are Sharon Shewmake with 50.11% to Vincent Buys 49.89%, or 131 votes difference.

An amazing 65% of registered voters cast their ballots. 96,000 of 143,000 registered voters in Whatcom County. That number should go up as more ballots arrive via mail at the courthouse this week. This is a huge turnout.

8:52 pm

Liberal Carol Frazey has won the open At Large Whatcom County council seat with a current lead of 58%.

Amazingly, Atul Deshmane is leading incumbent Paul Kenner for the Public Utility District commissioner seat. Our PUD is managed by 3 commissioners. Atul has 52% to Kenner’s 48% as of tonight. This can change as the week reveals new counts. But if this holds then it is a stunning upset for the good ol’ boys of Whatcom County.

8:40 pm

Our 42nd state legislative district is entirely within Whatcom County. The 40th spans south Bellingham and Whatcom County, parts of Skagit County, and all of the San Juan Islands. As such, for results in the 40th we need to view the state election pages. For the 42nd, our county auditor page tells the full story.

Debra Lekanoff has a 72% of the vote to Petrish 28%. This should be a convincing win. But Skagit County is very slow in counting ballots. They have reported 8,400 and have over 35,000 still to count. Thus this election is not yet decided.

8:25 pm

Whatcom County only report for evening is in. Eric Richey is leading with 55% of vote over James Erb for prosecutor. This probably seals the win for Richey.

Doug Ericksen and Pinky Vargas are almost tied - and thus this may not be decided until last real results on Friday. Ericksen leads with 50.37% to Vargas 49.63%. Less than 500 votes separate them.

Nov 6, 8:19 pm

Skagit County is reporting and Debra Lekanoff (D) has a commanding lead over Michael Petrish.

​Nov 6, 7:30 pm

Good evening. The only Whatcom County results of the evening will be available about 8:20 pm.

About John Servais

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]

Comments by Readers

Tim Paxton

Nov 08, 2018

Whatcom County Auditors in recent years used to be infamous in the State for “re-making” our local ballots.   Between 10-20% of the ballots used to be re-done to help “clarify” the voters intent.   Perhaps this is still the case?   It is  very difficult to fill in a bubble or draw a line locally.

Additionally, a black box generates a list of vote count numbers based on the presumption that the ballots fed to it are not  wrongly re-made.  The software creating the little pixels that create our hallucination of meaning is also presumed also not to be hacked.    

The computer running the presumed honest software can be hacked via it’s Chinese motherboard chips.  It can be hacked if air-gapped via the power supply.  The hardware can be hacked with a laser pointer and a laptop.   The simplest hack of all is a bag of cash, a thumb drive, and a bribeable janitor with access to the vote counting room.

For all we know, a bunch of chinese hackers with access to these chips have been taking bids for various races from amongst the campaign consultants.

Ballot counting software is hacked in almost every state in the USA so Bellingham’s  ballot counting shouldn’t be considered uniquely immune from this malady.   With hundreds of millions in budgets at stake locally,  hacked vote counts should be the presumption rather than anything else.

Time to go  to video taped hand counting?  It can’t be much slower than the system we have now.


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