King County Elections said Wednesday that problems with the ballot scanning system and the record high volumes of ballots being processed caused a breakdown in their system.
Statewide in the race for governor, Jay Inslee was leading, 51 percent to Rob McKenna's 49 percent.
In King County Wednesday evening, MkKenna was at 40.6 percent, up from 36.9 percent on election night.
Inslee is already assembling a transition team. That means recruiting co-chairs and hiring staff. A confident Inslee says when the numbers are finalized he wants to hit the ground running.
"In this transition team we will be looking for several characteristics of talent in the state of Washington. First, people who will bring a breath of fresh air to Olympia; second, people who have experience in job creation and to help me develop and implement a job creation plan; third, a transition group that will represent the whole state of Washington,” Inslee said.
Rob McKenna's staff said the mood in the office remains upbeat.
On Wednesday afternoon, McKenna released a YouTube video, asking supporters to keep the faith.
"With almost half the ballots left to be counted, we believe that the advantage among later voters is what is ultimately going to carry me to victory in this election," he said.
Analyst Ron Dotzaeur says in the state of Washington, it always comes down to King County.
“Whether we’re talking about a statewide candidate or a statewide ballot measure, at the end of the day, as King County goes, so goes the state,” said Dotzaeur.
On Tuesday, King County processed 555,000 ballots. They plan to count another 50,000 ballots. KING 5 News was told they have 218,000 ballots that came in the mail, but they haven't yet opened the envelopes and verified the signatures so they won't be counting those yet. And on top of that, there's an extra 70,000 to 100,000 ballots from drop boxes that also have not been processed.
If King County Elections only processes 50,000 ballots a day it could take more than a week to have a final result.
"It's just inexplicable," said Dotzaeur, who is a former county auditor. "I don't understand the logic here. We have the technology available."
"I remember in the old county auditor days we stayed up until we got all the last ballots counted that were in our possession. And if it was midnight or 1 o'clock in the morning we counted those ballots and we reported them to the public. And why they're trickling, this kind of drip, drip sort of thing, I have no idea."
On Wednesday evening, King County Elections officials said they planned two dumps of returns on Thursday - one at 3:30 and another in the evening. They are hoping to process 90,000 ballots