Official Top 2 Results Unavailable Until Final Certification
ALL of the results released on election night are unofficial. In fact, ALL results are unofficial until election certification.
On October 26, 2009, the Auditor's office released to the media its "General Elections Results Reporting Schedule". In the release, the Auditor's office reports that at 8:30 pm on Tuesday, November 3, they will put out results based on "absentees processed through Election Day and unofficial Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) algorithm results."
Why does the Auditor's office repeatedly refer to the RCV results as unofficial, but not the Top 2 results? She is striving to make it look like it takes longer to determine the winner of a RCV race than a Top 2 race. But this is NOT TRUE.
The Auditor's office will be releasing preliminary results based on the ballots counted through the end of each day. There will be preliminary results for the Top 2 races as well as the RCV race. ALL of these results (RCV or Top 2) will be unofficial until final certification. With some races, we will be able to safely guess who the winner will be before all of the votes are counted. In other races, we will need to count all of the votes before we know who wins. But regardless, none of the results (RCV or Top 2) are official until final certification.
Some races (both RCV and Top 2) are too close to call on election night. Indeed, the RCV race for Auditor this year just might be one of those. But the Top 2 race for Mayor of Tacoma may well be such a race as well.
Since RCV races are more likely to be competitive, they are more likely to be too close to call on election night. Competitive elections are a good thing. Uncontested Top 1 races are a bad thing, but the results are known before election night.
Some races are landslides. The RCV race for Sheriff last year was a landslide and we all knew who the winner was going to be at the first release of results. Uncontested races, such as about half of the Top 2 races in Pierce County, are always landslides. This does not make them good elections.