Local Election

Whatcom EMS levy failing by 5 votes out of 100,000 cast

A paramedic with Whatcom Medic One, drives through traffic on Meridian Street in Bellingham, March 9, 2012.
A paramedic with Whatcom Medic One, drives through traffic on Meridian Street in Bellingham, March 9, 2012. The Bellingham Herald

Out of more than 100,000 ballots cast, the Whatcom County Emergency Services levy was failing by five votes in the latest ballot count this week.

Over 59.995 percent of voters cast a ballot in favor of the six-year levy to better fund the county’s paramedic system in a tally released Wednesday evening, over a week after election day.

Sixty percent of people have to vote yes for it to pass.

County Auditor Debbie Adelstein doesn’t expect a clear winner to emerge until results are certified on Nov. 28. Roughly 50 ballots remain on hand at the auditor’s office. Overseas and military votes are still coming in, while 987 voters submitted ballots with signatures that weren’t accepted by the auditor’s office. Those voters can still submit a new, confirmed signature via mail or in person, and their vote will still count.

The EMS levy would raise property taxes by 29.5 cents per $1,000 of value. Over its six-year duration it would fund a fifth ambulance staffed by paramedics for the county, cover the salary of a new administrator to oversee the system, and build up about $10 million in reserves.

Proponents say the better funding is overdue. Opponents of the levy say the county and its fire districts haven’t finished the research on whether those things are necessary.

The process for a recount of a ballot measure is different from the process in a race with candidates. And it’s “quite onerous,” Adelstein said. At least five registered voters have to request a recount, and they have to come up with a check for 25 cents per vote – which would only be cashed if the recount is done and the results stay the same. So far 106,473 ballots have been counted. A recount would be a gamble of more than $25,000.

At this stage that hasn’t been requested.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

How Whatcom County voted

The map below details how the Emergency Services was faring by precinct, as of votes released Wednesday.

In precincts shaded green, the EMS levy is passing. In precincts shaded red, the levy is failing. To see individual totals, click on each precinct. To zoom in, use the controls embedded in the left side of the map.