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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?

Yes 9,618

No 2,196

 

Shall Judge Ingrid Gustafson of the Supreme Court of the State of Montana be retained in office for another term?

Yes 9,433

No 2,302

 

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?

Yes 10,112

No 1,697

 

Legislative Referendum No. 128 – 6 Mill Levy for Montana University System, Lake County 

Yes 7,807

No 5,226

 

Legislative Referendum No. 128 – 6 Mill Levy for Montana University System, statewide

Yes 259,847

No 162,114 

 

Legislative Referendum No. 129 – Prohibition of Ballot Collection by Certain Individuals, Lake County 

Yes 8,168

No 4,630

 

Legislative Referendum No. 129 – Prohibition of Ballot Collection by Certain Individuals, statewide

Yes 262,026 

No 152,211

 

Initiative No. 185 – Raise Tobacco Taxes to Fund Health Care Programs, Lake County

Yes 6,502

No 6,857

 

Initiative No. 185 – Raise Tobacco Taxes to Fund Health Care Programs, statewide

No 222,542

Yes 187,562

 

Initiative No. 186 – Deny a Hardrock Mine Permit for Perpetual Treatment of Water, Lake County

Yes 6,208

No 7,029

 

Initiative No. 186 – Deny a Hardrock Mine Permit for Perpetual Treatment of Water, statewide

No 236,328

Yes 170,169

 

Lake County – K-12 School District No. 28 Bond Election

Yes 704

No 617

  

 

  

 

 

 

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