The gap has narrowed to less than 400 votes on an increased sales tax to pay for a new Whatcom County Jail, according to an updated election count Wednesday, Nov. 4.
In a switch from early counts Tuesday night when the measure was passing by 579 votes, the tax increase was failing Wednesday with 22,453 votes against and 22,171 votes for, according to the updated count.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Whatcom County Auditor’s Office had counted 46,677 ballots, representing about 36 percent of registered voters in the county.
The office estimated it had around 10,000 ballots left to count. All of those have the jail tax on them, but not all voters may have voted on the issue. The next count will be published around 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5.
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The measure asked voters if the local sales tax should be increased by 0.2 percent, meaning shoppers in Whatcom County would pay an extra 20 cents for every $100 they spend starting next year, with half the tax expiring after 30 years.
If the measure passes, Whatcom County could move forward with building a 400- to 521-bed facility. If it fails, it could be a few years before the county makes another attempt to fund the project.