Posted: Dec 8, 2012 12:06 PM by MTN News
Updated: Dec 8, 2012 1:07 PM
KALISPELL, MT - Election offices across the state await a judge's order on how and when to conduct a recount in the race for Office of Public Instruction.
A Flathead District Court Judge heard arguments, Friday, in a case that will determine the outcome of the race that incumbent Denise Juneau won by a little more than 2,200 votes over republican challenger Sandy Welch.
Lawyers for Sandy Welch will present an order for the judge's approval on Monday.
On Tuesday, Welch will post a cash bond of about $116,000 to pay for the recount in Montana's 56 counties.
The recount will start next Friday, or the following business day on Monday.
Lawyers argued for about an hour in front of Judge Stewart Stadler.
The Welch campaign says the judge ruled that the recount will consider concerns that included: the M650 machines making tabulation errors, software problems and failures by election judges.
Secretary of State Linda McCulloch says the judge ruled that Welch could not challenge groups of ballots.
Welch's attorney's cited election misconduct in nearly 20 counties across Montana, including Glacier where officials ran out of ballots and used photocopies of ballots.
Judge Stadler concluded he could not overlook certain problems with the election.
"The judge recognized that we had lots of errors across the state," Welch said. "And agreed with us that we needed to recount statewide."
"It sounds like the state is going to be filing an appeal, on Monday," said Amy Eddy, attorney for Juneau. "for purposes of, the precedent setting nature of this. That an unsuccessful candidate can come to court, provide absolutely no evidence that votes have been miscounted, and be granted a statewide recount."
"We're not exactly sure what they'll be appealing," said Mitch Staley, spokesman for the Welch campaign. "But that was indicated by the respondents."
"Just to get clarification by the Supreme Court," McCulloch said. "Like whether there needs to be a recount, whether the issues involved in the case were enough to warrant a recount."
McCulloch does say if Welch had petitioned her office, she would have been able to get the recount since the vote difference of .48 percent falls within the recount range.
McCulloch said lawyers have not made the decision on whether or not to appeal.