The votes are in, but Pierce Co.'s Prop 1 still too close to call

TACOMA, Wash. -- More than a week after the election, a measure to save Pierce County bus service is still too close to call.

New numbers released Friday evening show the "reject Prop 1" side leads by just 695 votes.

With the vote so close, officials from the elections office worked all day to make sure each and every vote -- especially the questionable ones -- were straightened out and counted.

Going into Friday, the measure -- which would raise local sales tax -- was trailing by 34/100 of one percent. And with only 400 more votes counted on Friday, it looks like the proposition will be defeated.

Pierce Transit asked voters to pitch in 3 cents for every $10 spent for a new tax that would keep buses rolling at night and on weekends.

The three-member canvassing board is pouring over 400 ballots that were filled out incorrectly, trying to figure out what the voter meant.

"It is very serious. We have a whole bunch of ballots and people have filled them out very creatively," said board member Dan Roach.

Not every vote can be deciphered, and some ballots were cast without recording a vote on the issue. Sometimes it takes 15 minutes to figure out a single ballot.

"We're just working hard, making sure we make every vote count," Roach said.

Taking it all in is Syl Pelesasa, a bus driver who's spent 24 years with Pierce Transit.

"We're down some votes and it doesn't look very good, but you want to cross all of your t's and dot all of your i's," she said.

Pelesasa is among the public citizens who are watching the canvassing board do its work. Even though her measure is going down in defeat, she feels good about the process.

"I like what I see, and I feel confident in the process here," she said.

The county auditor said a few more ballots may still come in from overseas service members, but all the ballots they have have now been counted.

"So, nothing is absolute, but we're pretty much done with this election," said Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson.

A recount on the measure is available if at least five people call for it, but that would cost $200,000. No one has stepped up just yet asking for the recount.