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Vote appears final for proposed Whatcom child-care tax

Bellingham Herald - 11/19/2022

Nov. 18—A measure that would tax Whatcom County property owners to fund child care, preschool and other programs has apparently failed after the latest ballot totals from the Nov. 8 election were released.

Only 234 ballots remained to be counted when a new total was released Thursday evening, Nov. 17.

"We continue to watch the ballots trickle in and remain hopeful," the Whatcom Kids Campaign team said in an email Thursday.

Thursday's ballot totals left the child-care tax trailing by 50.06% to 49.94%, a margin of 138 votes out of a total of 108,062 ballots cast.

It needs a simple majority of 50% plus one vote to pass.

A final ballot count is expected at 5 p.m.Nov. 28 before the scheduled Nov. 29 election certification, according to the Whatcom County Auditor's Office website.

So the only wild card that could sway the total is the approximately 1,096 ballots that were rejected for reasons such as a missing signature or a signature that doesn't match the one on record.

Those voters have until the election is certified to fix or "cure" their rejected ballot. Voters can check their ballot status at

Late ballots

A crush of last-minute voters and a windstorm that damaged fiber-option lines crucial to ballot reporting caused a delay in tabulating the results of the Nov. 8 election by nearly a week.

Only the child-care measure remained in doubt Thursday.

It trailed on Election Night but votes to approve the measure increased with every subsequent release of ballot totals.

It was behind by 174 votes after the previous total was released Tuesday, Nov. 15.

Proposition 5, as it was called, asked Whatcom County voters to approve a property tax measure to fund child care, preschool programs to prepare children for kindergarten, help homeless youth and abused children, and provide mental health services for children and families.

It would charge property owners 19 cents for every $1,000 of assessed valuation, raising $8.2 million annually. That means that the owner of a home assessed at $500,000 would pay $95 a year for the 10-year life of the levy.

This story was originally published November 18, 20225:00 AM.


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