UPDATE: The 11:09 p.m. update from Pierce County now has Prop 1 losing 49.29 percent to 50.71 percent.
There's plenty at stake in Pierce County when it comes to Proposition 1 - which, if approved, will bring a three-tenths of one percent sales tax hike within Pierce Transit's service area to fund public transportation. According to supporters of the proposition, Prop 1 wields the power to literally make or break bus service in the state's second most populous county. If voters fail to approve the tax increase - as they did in February of 2011 - Pierce Transit bus service will once again be slashed, if not completely incapacitated.
With sales tax revenue making up 70 percent of Pierce Transit's budget, sales tax projections continuing to fall, and reductions in service triggering a drop in ridership, the situation has become what Gig Harbor City Council and Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners member Derek Young has described as a "negative feedback loop."
And the early returns indicate things might be about to get much worse. With just over 95,000 votes tabulated as of roughly 8:30 p.m., Prop 1 was losing 49.15 percent to 50.85 percent. More results are expected later tonight.
"I'm really disappointed ... terrified," says Young with roughly have the votes counted. "Basically, what we need to have happen is for the late votes to go our way. Comeback wins do happen."
Young's hopes, which seemed to be dwindling even as we spoke on the phone, now rest with the ballots that remain. His fingers are crossed for a turnaround.
"Conservatives, for whatever reason, tend to be better voters," says Young of those who got their ballots in early and make up the earliest results. He estimates a late vote surge still provides a "decent chance," of the proposition passing, though he's also being painfully realistic.
"We've got some time," says Young. "I expected it to be very close. I started to prepare myself [for the chance Prop 1 would fail] last week. ... It looks like the worst-case outcome is happening."