Close race for Benton County District Court Judge - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Close race for Benton County District Court Judge

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PROSSER, Wash. -- With every vote being closely watched in Benton County's race for District Court Judge, election workers are making calls to verify challenged ballots.

Election workers are making calls to 175 voters over identification issues with their ballots. The ballots will decide the race for District Court Judge between Dan Kathren and Alex Ekstrom.

The problem lies with signatures that are missing and others that don't match what the Auditor's office has on file.

County Auditor Brenda Chilton says this has become a problem. "Over time, voters signatures change and they just don't match what was on their original voter registration card. They may have registered to vote when they were 18 and fresh out of high school and then over a number of years their signatures just evolved," explained Chilton.

Chilton adds so far her office has reached about half of the nearly 200 voters with challenged ballots. The counting will continue up until the 22nd when a winner is expected to be certified. Of course that's assuming there's no recount.

Right now Dan Kathren has a 30 vote lead over Alex Ekstrom. If that lead doesn't grow, there will be a mandatory recount.