MISSOULA — Of the six rejected ballots cast in the Missoula City Council race in Ward 6, two were resolved on Tuesday, with each candidate receiving a single vote.
That left conservative City Council candidate Sandra Vasecka with a 12 vote win over progressive candidate Nick Shontz. However, it also remained within the margin of error where Shontz could request a recount if desired.
Missoula County elections administrator Dayna Causby said Shontz would have five days to request that recount from the date of canvas, which occurs this Thursday at 8 a.m.
Because it’s outside the margin for an automatic recount, he would have to fund it.
“We’re estimating the cost to be about $2,000,” said Causby. “I know that everyone wants a speedy resolution, and to make that happen, I don’t know who I would have available to bring that in.”
Shontz couldn’t be reached after the two ballots were resolved late Tuesday afternoon.
While the results remain unofficial until canvas, Vasecka secured 1,240 votes after Tuesday’s resolution to the 1,228 votes taken by Shontz.
“Literally nothing changed,” said Causby. “They each had one vote each. There’s no difference between the votes.”
If a recount were requested, Causby said, a recount board would be assembled to review what she described as resolution ballots, or ballots that weren’t run through the machine.
She said roughly 25 ballots exist in Ward 6 and could represent a voter who didn’t mark any candidate, who marked both candidates, or clearly marked one candidate but spilled coffee, for example, on his or her ballot before mailing it in.
Each ballot would have to be agreed upon during a recount for it sway the vote toward any one candidate.
“There are three people who sit on the resolution board,” said Causby. “They have to be from different political parties, and they all have to agree what their interpretation of the voter’s intent was. Those would get looked at during a recount, if (Shontz) requested one.”