HELENA -- Provisional votes counted Wednesday gave Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau a 2,264-vote victory over Republican challenger Sandy Welch.
Welch’s campaign said they still plan to request a recount.
“Our supporters have indicated that they support (a recount) and that it would be healthy for the process,” said Welch’s campaign manager, Mitch Staley. “We’re going to go forward with the process and see what we can find.”
Juneau, a Democrat who won her second four-year term, said she’ll get ready for the recount, but that she’s confident her lead will hold.
“I always knew the race would be close,” she said Wednesday. “I’m really proud of the campaign that we ran. … We were able to get a positive message out on my accomplishments and achievements as superintendent.”
Juneau said she also plans to start gearing up for the 2013 Legislature, where she’ll have an ambitious agenda for education and education funding.
“That will be our next step, working with the Legislature and trying to get some good policy and make sure schools are supported at the end of the session,” she said.
Juneau said her proposals will include a one-time $34 million appropriation to help schools transition to new math and English standards and upgrade technology and training for an assessment program related to the standards.
Provisional votes, which are cast by voters whose registration couldn’t be validated on Election Day, were verified and counted statewide early this week. The provisional votes increased Juneau’s lead by about 900 votes.
Juneau’s winning margin, however, was just 0.48 percent of the total votes cast. If the final margin in a Montana race is less than 0.5 percent of the total votes, the loser can request a recount.
However, if the margin is less than 0.5 percent and more than 0.25 percent, the loser must post a bond and potentially pay for the costs of the recount.
Secretary of State Linda McCulloch, the state’s chief election officer, said counties are coming up with a cost estimate for the recount.
The Juneau-Welch race is the only state race where a recount is possible. The recount can’t be requested until after the election results become official on Nov. 27.
McCulloch also noted Wednesday that last week’s voter turnout was about 72 percent, which is average for a presidential election and much higher than 2010’s 56 percent turnout.
In all, 492,116 Montanans cast votes on Nov. 6, McCulloch’s office said. A record 262,045 of those votes, or 53 percent, were cast as absentee ballots.