Multnomah County Ballot CountingElections workers are nearly done counting votes in Oregon and it now appears that a GMO labeling measure is headed toward a recount.
(Betsy Hammond / The Oregonian)
The battle over a measure to require labeling of genetically altered food appeared headed to a recount Thursday as new totals showed it losing by fewer than 1,500 votes.
Measure 92 moved into range of an automatic recount after Multnomah County released results that included a final batch of nearly 7,200 ballots that leaned heavily in favor of the initiative.
Sandeep Kaushik, a spokesman for the Measure 92 campaign, was encouraged by the prospect of a recount, but he acknowledged that “the math is daunting” because recounts don’t usually turn around a race unless the margin is less than a few hundred votes.
Pat McCormick, a spokesman for the opposition campaign, said by email that despite the latest results, “We are confident Measure 92 has been defeated.”
In part, the race tightened more than some analysts — including at The Oregonian — expected because supporters took advantage of a new Oregon law publicly identifying voters who cast what are known as challenge ballots. Those are ballots in which the signature of the voter doesn’t match the signature on file or in which the voter neglected to sign the ballot.
There were just over 13,000 challenge ballots around the state, and Measure 92 supporters launched a major effort to get voters to go to their county elections office to sign their ballot or to send in a new voter registration card showing how their signature looks now.
Tuesday was the deadline to clean up challenge ballots, and it appeared that a relatively high percentage wound up being counted.
Veteran political pollster Tim Hibbitts, who calls races for Fox 12 TV, noticed on Wednesday that newly counted ballots in as many as 16 counties leaned more heavily in favor of the initiative than the votes cast earlier in each of the counties.