Supporters of a Pierce Transit tax measure took heart from vote counts Wednesday that showed them closing the gap to victory with roughly 100,000 ballots left to be counted.
Proposition 1, at 50.29 percent rejection and 49.71 percent approval Wednesday night, remained too close to call.
Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson said a recount isnt guaranteed if the close count holds. Recounts are automatic when margins are slim in candidate races, but the rules are different for ballot measures.
There could only be a one vote difference between rejected and approved, and we still wouldnt do a recount, Anderson said. The parties can request a recount after the results are certified, but they would have to pay for it, she said.
It wasnt clear Wednesday if Restore Transit Now, the campaign supporting the tax increase, planned to request a recount if the margin holds. But the campaign against the measure seemed confident there would be a recount either way.
The losing party is going to fund a recount, theres no doubt about that, said Nick Sherwood of Reject Proposition 1. Were trending toward dead even.
Rejection was ahead by 1,643 votes Tuesday night, but had lost ground Wednesday at only 829 votes ahead.
That prompted the Reject Proposition 1 campaign to launch a ballot rescue effort, calling likely Proposition 1 opponents whose names appear on the auditors list of voters whose mail-ballot signatures could not be verified. Callers were encouraging such voters to take steps to get their ballots counted, Sherwood said.
Proposition 1 would raise the sales tax rate within Pierce Transits boundaries by three-tenths of 1 percent. That means a total of 9 cents would go to the agency for every $10 spent. Tacomas sales tax would be 9.8 percent 10.1 percent for auto sales if the measure passes.
Pierce Transit officials say the additional revenue is needed to help the agency recover from the hit sales tax collections took in the recession. Without it, they say theyll have to cut weekend buses and service after 7 p.m., and reduce service for the disabled.
Those cuts would mean Tacoma resident Chris Simmons would have to walk an hour and a half to get home after his shift at a retail-sales job ends at 7 p.m. He also is concerned about losing service on the weekends, which he says are his best sales days.
His parents also would be affected by the cuts, he said while waiting to catch Route 52 home Wednesday night. They use Pierce Transits disability service to get from Steilacoom to medical appointments.
Opponents argue the increase would drive business out of the county, and say the agency should do more to reduce employee costs.
Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268