Lake County predicts close Senate race
LAKE COUNTY – Ballots for the 2018 General Election were still being counted during the early morning hours in Lake County after the Tuesday, Nov. 6, election day.
The unofficial count was finally finished and ready to be recorded on the state’s website around 5 a.m. on Wednesday. The procedure is relatively simple. The total votes from each contest are typed into a computer. The information is sent through the Internet to the state. The public can then see the results, but a small problem delayed the process.
“The state website froze at 5:55 in the morning, and we tried to hit send at 5:58,” said Katie Harding, Lake County election administrator.
The website wasn’t fixed until 9:30 a.m.
“People thought we must still be counting if we hadn’t posted the results but we weren’t. It was a problem with the website,” she said.
Harding said about 320 provisional ballots still needed to be counted after those unofficial totals were recorded, and they were officially counted on Nov. 13. She said officials considered the district each ballot was from and determined that the remaining votes wouldn’t be enough to flip the current predicted winners.
The St. Ignatius School District Bond passed with 704 “yes” votes and 617 “no” votes. She said about 50 of the provisional ballots were from St. Ignatius, which wasn’t going to be enough to change that majority even if they were all “no” votes.
Harding said the election went “smoothly” other than the state’s website issue. She said on election day about 850 ballots were returned to polling locations, so they needed to be counted after the regular ballots were counted. The counting process could go a bit faster if voters sent in their absentee ballots earlier. “That isn’t really an issue as long as people get them turned in on election day,” she said.
About 35 people sent absentee ballots through the mail and assumed the Nov. 6 was the date they needed to be postmarked, which wasn’t correct. “The ballots need to be in the election office by that date to be counted,” she said. If they were postmarked on Nov. 6, then they were most likely sitting in the post office when ballots were counted.
People at the polls might have noticed the process was a little different. Voters were asked to put their ballots in a box instead of a machine during this election. The old machines that counted the number of ballots at each district were costing the county a total of $8,000 for maintenance and often had problems. “They kept breaking down, and it was a real problem during elections,” Harding said.
The election office bought a new DS450 Tabulator to fix the problem, so now, ballots are collected in secure boxes, brought to the election office, and fed into the new machine.
The process includes a few more steps for mail-in ballots, which are scanned first. The signature on the envelope is verified, and then, the envelopes are sliced open. The ballots are then fed through the tabulator. The Lake County canvass will be held in the commissioner’s chambers on Nov. 19 at 10 a.m. to make the count official.
The number of registered voters in Montana was at a record high of 711,322 with 497,393 turning out to vote. Lake County also saw an increase in the number of registered voters by almost 500 since the 2016 General Election. In Lake County, 19, 286 people were registered to vote during the 2018 General Election, and 13,534 votes were cast, which comes out to 70 percent.
Lake County has had a history of predicting Montana’s federal and statewide elections in the past twenty years, and the numbers were on course again this year. In the 2018 Senate race, Jon Tester held the majority vote with 50 percent in Lake County with the same 50 percent in the state. Tester took the majority in the 2016 General Election in Lake County as well. The Unofficial Lake County 2018 General Election results:
United States Senate, Lake County
Dem. Jon Tester 6,687
Rep. Matt Rosendale 6,393
Lib. Rick Breckenridge 352
United States Senate, statewide
Dem. Jon Tester 211,596
Rep. Matt Rosendale 210,574
Lib. Rick Breckenridge 12,527
United States Representative, Lake County
Rep. Greg Gianforte 6,905
Dem. Kathleen Williams 6,197
Lib. Elinor Swanson 343
United States Representative, statewide
Rep. Greg Gianforte 228,932
Dem. Kathleen Williams 193,832
Lib. Elinor Swanson 12,156
Public Service Commissioner, District 5, Lake County
Rep. Brad Johnson 7,441
Dem. Andy Shirtliff 5,557
Public Service Commissioner, District 5, statewide
Rep. Brad Johnson 59,220
Dem. Andy Shirtliff 43,045
Clerk of the Supreme Court
Rep. Bowen Greenwood 6,723
Dem. Rex Renk 5,370
Lib. Roger Roots 728
Shall Judge Beth Baker of the Supreme Court of the State of Montana be retained in office for another term?
Shall Judge Ingrid Gustafson of the Supreme Court of the State of Montana be retained in office for another term?
District Court Judge, District 20
Deborah “Kim” Christopher 7,933
Ashley Morigeau 4,377
State Senator District 5
Rep. Bob Keenan 952
State Senator District 8
Dem. Susan A. Webber 1,524
State Representative District 10
Rep. Mark Noland 813
Lib. Bill Jones 277
State Representative District 12
Rep. Greg Hertz 3,241
Dem. Susan T. Evans 2,072
State Representative District 15
Dem. Marvin R. Weatherwax Jr. 1,507
State Representative District 93
Rep. Joe Read 2,388
Dem. Eldena N. Bear Don’t Walk 1,850
Lake County Commissioner District 3
Rep. Gale Decker 7,622
Caroline McDonald 5,604
Lake County Clerk and Recorder
Dem. Paula Holle 9,720
Lake County Sheriff/Coroner
Rep. Don Bell 10,966
Lake County Attorney
Rep. Steven N Eschenbacher 9,957
Lake County Superintendent of Schools
Rep. Carolyn Hall 10,503
Lake County Treasurer/Assessor
Rep. Robin G. Vert-Rubel 10,509
Shall Justice of the Peace Randal “Randy” Owens of the Justice Court of Lake County be retained in office for another term?
Legislative Referendum No. 128 – 6 Mill Levy for Montana University System, Lake County
Legislative Referendum No. 128 – 6 Mill Levy for Montana University System, statewide
Legislative Referendum No. 129 – Prohibition of Ballot Collection by Certain Individuals, Lake County
Legislative Referendum No. 129 – Prohibition of Ballot Collection by Certain Individuals, statewide
Initiative No. 185 – Raise Tobacco Taxes to Fund Health Care Programs, Lake County
Initiative No. 185 – Raise Tobacco Taxes to Fund Health Care Programs, statewide
Initiative No. 186 – Deny a Hardrock Mine Permit for Perpetual Treatment of Water, Lake County
Initiative No. 186 – Deny a Hardrock Mine Permit for Perpetual Treatment of Water, statewide
Lake County – K-12 School District No. 28 Bond Election