Projection shows unlikely loss for $10.5 million measure

Supporters of a bond levy that would raise millions to reconstruct school buildings in Banks were on pins and needles this week, as election results had the bond holding onto a razor-thin margin.

The latest count Tuesday had the measure passing by 13 votes, 759 to 746.

That's a bit of a climb from the late results May 16, when the levy took a lead of nine votes.

Washington County Elections officials say there are roughly 500 ballots left to count, which should be tallied by Friday.

Mickie Kawai, manager of the elections office, said there may be a few ballots in neighboring counties, too, but for the most part, the count is winding down.

So with the results up in the air, but the ballots dwindling, the News-Times turned to Kevin Cliff, a Banks High School math teacher and Martin Rausch, one of his students, to crank out the probability that the measure could swing one way or another.

On Friday Cliff and Rausch produced a pair of equations. One determines what portion of remaining ballots will be Banks ballots. The second tested the probability that the ballot count could change the results and swing the election.

But the results were updated Friday, giving the bond a stronger lead, so the second equation isn't needed. Banks voters represented 0.19 percent of the 79,123 ballots cast, meaning roughly nine of the 500 outstanding ballots are from Banks.

That's not enough to turn the lead around, but it is enough to bring the measure into the six-vote margin it takes in this case to trigger a recount. Of course, projections are just that, projections. And there are technically enough ballots left for the election results to be toppled.

Voters in Banks have turned down the 1,130-student district's efforts to raise similar bonds three times since 2008.

Levies of $25.5 million and $25.9 million went down to defeat in 2008 and 2010, respectively. A $10.5 million try at the polls failed last May.

This time, district officials were counting on a couple of factors - lower interest rates resulting in a softer hit to voters' pocketbooks and a bare-bones project list - to make the levy palatable enough to pass.

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