The $1.1 million high school technology mill levy for School District 2 passed by 10 votes after a daylong recount Monday.
Yellowstone County Commissioner Jim Reno said the recount ended at 5:30 p.m., and, after more than 37,000 ballots were counted by hand, a 27-vote margin of victory narrowed to 10 votes. Voters cast their votes on the mill levy earlier this month.
The final tally was 17,593 in favor of the mill levy, with 17,583 against.
Most of the recount action occurred with ballots that had been inspected by hand on Election Day. Those were ballots that, because of the way they were marked, could not be counted by the Elections Office machines on the night of May 4.
Those ballots, where voters filled in two bubbles instead of one or circled the ballot question rather than darkening the corresponding bubble, tended to change most often, said deputy elections chief Bret Rutherford.
Reno said the commissioners signed the official canvassing paperwork after the votes were counted, and the results will stand unless they are challenged in District Court.
The recount began at 8 a.m. Monday with 12 provisional judges counting each ballot. The recount went quickly, with Rutherford estimating Monday afternoon that it would be finished before 6 p.m.
“It’s moving fast,” he said.
By 3:30 p.m., the 12 provisional judges from the county’s precincts had counted 60 of the 84 boxes of ballots.
“That’s way faster than we thought it would be,” said John Ostlund, one of the county commissioners overseeing the recount.
He praised the judges, most of them senior citizens with years of election experience, who have sat in the county courthouse conference room for hours straight counting ballots. Each ballot is counted three times during the recount.
“I haven’t seen anybody get up,” Ostlund said.
Reno estimated the cost of the recount would be between $1,000 and $2,000, with the bill going to the school district.