Nov 8, 2012 7:05 PM by Marnee Banks - MTN News

Juneau-Welch race for OPI still not final

Montanans are still waiting to find out who will be the next state Superintendent of Public Instruction.

As of 4 p.m., Democratic incumbent Denise Juneau is leading Republican challenger Sandy Welch by 1,599 votes.

The current tally has Juneau with 231,976 votes (50.09%), and Welch 230,377 (49.75%).

The delay in determining the outcome can be found in Yellowstone County, where election officials are still counting about 40,000 ballots.

The folds in the absentee ballots for Yellowstone County slowed down the counting machines, forcing them to be stopped and then restarted frequently.

So instead of feeding 200 ballots per minute, the machines were only processing 5 to 10 ballots per minute.

A mechanic arrived at around 2 a.m. on Thursday and was able to repair the machines so more ballots can now pass through.

Yellowstone County elections administrator Bret Rutherford expects the ballots will all be counted sometime on Thursday evening.

We will update you when the winner is determined.

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