Washington Measure 74 update

This post consists primarily of probably-unnecessary fretting about the details of Measure 74 voting. The short version is that everyone's pretty confident that 74 has passed, but I'm still slightly apprehensive because there are still three quarters of a million votes left to be counted, with more still coming in. But my nervousness is most likely completely unfounded. So now you can skip the rest of this post.

The Yes side (approving marriage equality) is currently ahead, 51.96% to 48.04%. That's a slightly wider margin than was true this morning, so that's encouraging.

This morning there were 618,000 votes left to be counted in Washington state. This evening, even though they've counted something like a hundred thousand of those, there are still 744,000 left to be counted. I assume that the reason the number has gone up is that almost all Washington counties are vote-by-mail only, and voters can put ballots in the mail even on election day itself. So I imagine new ballots will continue to arrive over the next day or two.

To keep from fretting overmuch, I threw together a spreadsheet that takes the existing numbers and extrapolates. In particular, it takes the percentage of each county that's voted yes so far, and multiplies that by the number of ballots remaining to be counted for that county.

So if the ballots that each county has counted are a roughly representative sample of all the ballots from that county, then we can expect a net gain of about 38,000 Yes votes by the time the ballots are all counted, in addition to the lead the Yes side already has; in other words, we can expect Measure 74 to pass.

That “if” is a mighty big assumption. I'll feel a lot better about the whole thing when more of the ballots from the big counties are counted. King (voting 2-to-1 in favor) has 232,000 ballots left to count, and Pierce and Snohomish each have about 100,000 ballots left. Pierce is voting slightly No so far, and Snohomish slightly Yes, so I'm hoping their remaining votes will cancel each other out, in which case all should be fine, but I'm still a little bit nervous. Yes is only 84,000 votes ahead of No, and there are nearly ten times that many uncounted votes remaining. Plus any new ones that come in over the next day or two.

On the other hand, the trend is very clearly in a positive direction. The gap between Yes and No has been widening all day, as votes get counted. Counties that voted No have been shifting slightly toward less No, and counties that voted Yes have been shifting slightly toward more Yes. A few hours ago, my spreadsheet was predicting that there would be a net gain of 23,000 yes votes by the end of counting; now, after some net gain already, it's predicting a further net gain of 38,000.

The Yes On 74 people have apparently been doing similar calculations. They announced victory earlier today; at that point about 60% of the ballots that had arrived had been counted, and now 75% of the ballots that have arrived (and there are significantly more of those now) have been counted.

My uncle (who'll be getting married if 74 passes) also did the same kinds of calculations on the biggest counties, and came to the same conclusions.

So it's quite likely that I'm being unnecessarily nervous. I get nervous when a fairly strongly No county that had previously had no uncounted votes listed suddenly gets 41,000 added (presumably newly arrived mail-in ballots); and I see that the No On 74 people haven't yet conceded. But at this point, over 55% of all the remaining ballots would have to vote No in order to overcome the 84,000-vote gap; and although there are counties that voted more than 55% No, none of the large counties were that negative; that's probably an insurmountable gap.

So I think all is well. But I'll be more comfortable saying that after the next big round of vote-count updates, tomorrow evening.

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