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Candidate files recount request, posts bond in tight race for Missoula City Council

Posted: 5:30 PM, Nov 19, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-19 19:30:54-05
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MISSOULA — A local business founder and candidate for the Missoula City Council on Tuesday filed his request for an official recount in a race where he’s trailing the leading candidate by 12 votes.

Nick Shontz, founder of GeoFli and the progressive candidate in Ward 6, met Tuesday’s deadline to request the recount against conservative Sandra Vasecka. The race remains within the margin where a candidate can seek a recounting of ballots under state law.

Shontz said he’s seeking clarity around the outcome of the race.

“It was due to the support I received after the election, with folks asking what they could do in terms of a recount and if there was going to be one,” he told the Missoula Current on Tuesday afternoon. “Really, whatever happens, the clarity and the will of the voters will be clear, and that’s what the results will show.”

The tight election closed earlier this month with Shontz trailing Vasecka by 12 votes, or just .049%. Six ballots were rejected in the race, but after being contacted by elections officials, as required, two voters corrected the error.

One vote went to Shontz and the other to Vasecka, which maintained Vasecka’s 12-point margin. Shontz had five days from the date of canvas to request the recount, or until 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

“I had to post a bond, which is something I’ve never done before,” he said. “It ensures the county that it’s going to get paid. I was able to get that taken care of.”

Because the voter margin is outside the .025% where a recount would be automatic, Shontz must fund the endeavor. Missoula County elections administrator Dayna Causby placed the cost at $2,000.

“He has secured a bond for $2,000 for the recount costs,” she said. “We won’t know what those costs are until we’re finished. Whatever that difference is, he gets refunded.”

Under state law, the recount must take place within five days of the request. It has been scheduled for Thursday at 1 p.m. at the county’s new Elections Office on Russell Street.

Causby said a recount board will be convened to oversee the process. It typically includes the three Missoula County commissioners or a separate elected official. She said two county commissioners will participate Thursday, along with a third official, who wasn’t named.

“We’ll verify that all the ballots are in our possession, and they’ll begin the recount process, looking at each individual ballot,” Causby said. “It is a hand-eye recount.”