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County to recount ballots in commissioner race


Heimuller less than 0.2% from majority needed to avoid runoff

Columbia County's top elections official said Tuesday, June 10, that there will be a recount in the close primary election between incumbent Henry Heimuller and challenger Wayne Mayo for a seat on the Board of County Commissioners after all.

Pam Benham, elections supervisor for the county, said she was informed that Oregon state law requires an automatic recount due to the thin vote margin separating Heimuller, who won the most votes in the primary, from an outright majority of the vote.

Heimuller is 18 votes shy of having more than 50 percent of the vote, according to official election results from the Columbia County Elections Department. He won 5,360 votes out of 10,754 cast in the race — 60 more than rival Mayo, the only other candidate on the ballot.

The number of write-in votes, of which there were 94 cast, exceeds the margin between the two candidates. That leaves Heimuller 0.16 percent of the vote below the 50-percent mark, which he needs to exceed in order to be elected at the primary, according to state law. Under state law, an automatic recount is conducted if the official result is within 0.2 percent of the vote from an alternate outcome.

Without a candidate taking a majority of the vote in the nonpartisan primary, the top two vote-getters will advance to a general election in November, even though Heimuller and Mayo were the only qualified candidates running in the primary.

Benham said the recount will begin Monday, June 16, and take at least two days to complete.

“Those are hand-counted, and we have to do the whole county,” she said of the ballots in the recount.

Both Heimuller and Mayo denied interest in asking for a recount, before Benham announced it will be conducted automatically. They said they believed the county's vote count to be accurate.