Local vote counting wraps up

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The Flathead County Election Department on Tuesday finished counting close to 400 provisional ballots from the Nov. 6 general election, but those votes didnít change the outcome of any local races.

Provisional ballots include those from voters whose addresses changed within the county or those who had requested an absentee ballot and for whatever reason went to a polling place to vote.

In addition to the provisional ballots, the final vote count posted on the county website Wednesday includes 230 military ballots and more than 400 ballots reviewed by the election Resolution Board.

The Resolution Board looked at ballots that were rejected by the vote counting machines for any number of reasons, Election Supervisor Monica Eisenzimer said. If an oval isnít properly filled in, for example, the machine canít read the result and kicks it out, she said.

All totaled, the provisional, military and Resolution Board ballots added 1,060 votes to the final tally, for 44,211 votes cast in Flathead County. That bumped the voter turnout to 72.4 percent. There were 61,052 registered voters for the general election.

For the state Superintendent of Public Instruction race in which a recount is possible, incumbent Democrat Denise Juneau got 400 more votes from Flathead County, while Republican challenger Sandy Welch of Martin City picked up 552 votes in the late counting.

Final vote counts for all local, state and federal races are posted online on the countyís website, http://flathead.met.gov/election.

The statewide tally of provisional ballots gave Juneau a slight boost in her re-election bid for superintendent of public instruction.

Juneau has held a razor-thin lead over Republican challenger Sandy Welch since last Tuesdayís election. That lead had been sitting at just .3 percent.

But the lead increased to .48 percent after counties reported their provisional ballot tallies on Wednesday.

That is just within the .5 percent limit that a losing candidate can request a recount. Welch has said she would ask for a recount if the results stand within the allowable margin.

Missoula County had the most provisional ballots at about 2,000. Elections administrator Vickie Zeier says Juneau gained votes in those ballots by more than a 2-to-1 margin over Welch.

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