Statewide vote totals released Monday show an Oregon ballot measure that would require labeling of genetically modified foods was losing by a mere 809 votes and will go to an automatic recount. Results from all 36 counties three weeks after Election Day showed Measure 92 was defeated by a margin of only 0.06 percentage point, well under the 0.2 percent threshold for a recount. A hand tally of ballots is likely to begin the first week in December after Secretary of State Kate Brown certifies the election results, formally triggering the recount. Oregon is the fourth state in the West to reject a labeling requirement for genetically modified foods, but it was the closest tally yet. “Regardless of what the final outcome of this race is, this is a very encouraging sign for those of us who support labeling of genetically engineered foods,” said Sandeep Kaushik, a spokesman for the campaign promoting the measure. Machine counts are subject to a small margin of error, Kaushik said, and with such a razor-thin vote difference, “there is a plausible possibility that the outcome of this race will change.”
Still, the odds are against the proponents. In 22 statewide recounts around the U.S. since 2000, the average shift was only 0.03 percentage point, according to FairVote, a Maryland-based advocacy group. Five of them produced a shift that would be large enough to alter the outcome of Oregon’s measure.
At nearly $30 million, the battle over Measure 92 was by far the costliest campaign in Oregon history.
Officials with the campaign opposing the measure did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“We are confident that Measure 92 has been defeated, and that will be the case even if there happens to be a recount,” Dana Bieber, a spokeswoman for the No on 92 Coalition, said last week.