Missoula election workers started a recount in a state senate race too close to call. Missoula Republican Dick Haines trails Democrat Diane Sands by just 31 votes. The actual count hasn’t started yet. On Thursday, about 50 workers including county commissioners looked through ballots, checking for anything that might have made election machines fail to count the vote — things like coffee stains. It’s prep work for Friday’s actual count, which will take until Monday to have the results. The actual tally will cover some 8,000 ballots by hand. “This is a great opportunity for us to go back and show that everything we do, we do with respect of law and elections. Sometimes it feels like there is a veil or an iron veil, and people don’t really know what’s going on behind the scenes, so this is a great opportunity to show the public, show candidates, show citizens of Missoula that we’re doing everything right here in elections,” said Elections Administrator Rebecca Connors.
Both Haines and Sands were at the Missoula County Records Center Thursday afternoon, keeping watch over the process.
Haines lost the race by four-tenths of one percent — 31 of a total 7,835 votes. Haines qualified for a petition to recount. “I felt like there was a good chance that we could change votes, and I had a lot of people tell me they would support that idea, so here we are,” said Haines.
The recount isn’t free. Haines had to post a $2,640 bond. He says the clock is running, with the legislature less than a month away.