GREAT FALLS — A state House race separated by just four votes is now tied after a recount of all primary ballots cast in Cascade County.
Bill Thomas had been leading Rod Lukasik in the Democratic primary for House District 26. But Lukasik gained four votes in Friday's recount, and the two now have 633 votes apiece for the Democratic nomination.
Election staff counted all county ballots again after discovering some had not been counted on election night.
An official election canvass is scheduled Tuesday. If Thomas and Lukasik remain tied after that, an automatic recount will occur within a few days, county election officials said.
If the race is still tied, Secretary of State Brad Johnson will settle the deadlock by drawing names, said Elaine Graveley, elections deputy in the secretary of state's office.
Debbie Mart, county election supervisor, said 187 more ballots were counted in Friday's Cascade County recount than were tallied earlier in the week. The extra ballots did not change the outcome of any other races.
Election officials discovered the discrepancy Thursday. They now believe staff accidentally forgot to recount ballots in which voters cast write-in votes during a recount Wednesday morning.
Friday's recount cost the county about $200, primarily for wages paid to special observers and personnel hired for the count, Mart said.
House District 26, which Democratic incumbent Rep. Kathleen Galvin-Halcro is vacating because of term limits, includes part of west Great Falls, Vaughn and the Sun River valley. The Democratic nominee will face Republican Jack Allen, a Great Falls police lieutenant, in November.
Thomas is a former state lawmaker, retired educator and current chairman of the Cascade County Democratic Party. Lukasik is a school custodian and union official.