The Cascade County Commission held a special meeting on Tuesday, November 22, 2022 to discuss the vote recount in the Cascade County Clerk & Recorder race.
Results show Sandra Merchant having won the race by 20 votes. There were 14,445 votes for her and 14,425 votes for incumbent Rina Fontana-Moore.
Dozens of people attended, and most of the public comments were made in opposition to the request for a recount, with several in favor.
The county has also brought in Bret Rutherford of Rutherford Consulting in Billings to help oversee the recount, which he estimates will take a day or two next week. Commissioners unanimously approved the recount which will involve around 25 volunteers from different state departments hand-counting the ballots.
State law puts an election in recount status if the margin of victory is less than one quarter of one percent. Candidates - in this case Fontana-Moore - have five days under state law to request a recount. She says she was not allowed to do so until the election results were canvassed, which happened last Friday.
She said there is a margin of error in the machines and that this recount will show their accuracy.
“I feel that I owe it to the people that voted for me,” Fontana-Moore said. “We are so far beneath a quarter of 1%. This is the only way to make sure that everything has run exactly like it's supposed to. Under the law, when a county is in a potential recount status, they do not have to do the post-election audit. In fact, the Secretary of State's office completely skips over that county, so there were no precincts chosen for Cascade County under Montana law."
On Wednesday, November 23, 2022, the Cascade County Board of Commissioners released the following information:
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a Petition for Recount was filed by MCA §13-16-201(1)(a). Consequently, pursuant to MCA 13-16-204(2), the Recount Board (Board) will convene briefly at the Courthouse Annex, located at 325 2nd Ave. N., Room 111, Great Falls, Montana, on Monday, November 28, 2022, at 8:00 a.m. at which time the Board will, without delay, relocate to the Exhibition Hall at Montana ExpoPark (ExpoPark) 400 3rd Street NW, Great Falls, Montana, on Monday, November 28, 2022, to commence with conducting the ballot recount.
Pursuant to MCA § 13-16-411(1) the recount is open to the public and the public is invited to witness the recount process.
The recount shall commence upon the Board’s assembly at ExpoPark and continue thereafter until 5 p.m. with a one-hour break from 12 -1 p.m. In the event the recount is not concluded Monday, the recount board shall reconvene at ExpoPark each day thereafter from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a one-hour break from 12-1 p.m. and conduct the ballot recount until the recount has concluded. For questions, please contact the Board of County Commissioners at (406) 454-6810.
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