A one-vote difference in Rosebud County's commissioner race has prompted a recount this Friday, said Rosebud County Clerk and Recorder Geraldine Custer. The recount will also determine the top two candidates for the justice of the peace position, who will face off in November.
According to the initial election results, incumbent county commissioner Joann Stahl garnered 701 votes to challenger Daniel Sioux's 700 votes. Both were running on the Democratic ticket to represent the district that covers Lame Deer, Ashland, Birney and part of Colstrip, west of Highway 39 and south of Highway 212. The winner will run against Republican candidate Kerrie McFarland in the November general election.
Besides the razor-thin margin in the commissioner race, Custer said only nine votes separated two of the six candidates for justice of the peace. Gail Beckham, who currently serves as justice of the peace in Colstrip, won 526 votes to earn a spot on the November ballot. The recount will clarify who she will face in that election. Election results indicate Mary O'Hara Kunst, who currently serves as justice of the peace in Forsyth, garnered 415 votes and Marvin Quinlan Jr., who had previously served as Rosebud County Attorney, received 406 votes. Any race divided by less than 10 votes is eligible for a recount, Custer said.
This year marks a change in the justice of the peace position, she said. What had been two positions are being combined into one.
Custer, who has served as clerk and recorder for 28 years, said Friday's recount will mark the first recount for a local race during her tenure.
"It's definitely the first one-count recount we've had to do," she said.
The canvassing and recount board typically includes all three county commissioners, but because Stahl's position is involved, she will not participate on the recount board. Instead, the board makeup has been changed to include one commissioner, the county treasurer, the county superintendent of schools and Custer.
The countywide vote in Rosebud County totaled roughly 1,980 ballots, which represented a 38 percent turnout.
Custer said the poll book and register agree on the number of votes cast. Should the second count verify the results of the first, she said, "the voters will have a lot more faith in the system."
The recount will begin at 9 a.m. and is expected to take several hours.