Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) After shoring up rejected ballots during last week’s general municipal election, each candidate vying for the City Council seat in Ward 6 received one additional vote.

It wasn’t enough to change the outcome and it sets the stage for a recount.

“We’re prepping to get things ready,” Missoula County Elections Administrator Bradly Seaman said on Wednesday. “All that depends on when we receive and if we receive that form requesting the recount.”

Incumbent council member Sandra currently trails Sean Patrick McCoy by five votes, or a margin of roughly 0.17%. That sits within the threshold of state law allowing Vasecka to request a recount and have the elections office fund it.

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Seaman said provisional ballots were counted on Monday and the final canvass is slated for Nov. 20. Vasecka can petition for a recount within five days of the canvass, and the elections office must pull together a recount board withing five days of receiving Vasecka’s petition.

“There’s a lot of wiggle room in that time frame, but we’re shooting to have that (recount) on November 29,” said Seaman. “We’ve blocked out the full day so we don’t have to close and recall that whole board. It mirrors our post-election audit, so we’re pretty good at it.”

The race in Ward 6 isn’t the first time the final tally has been tight. Vasecka won the seat four years ago by a margin of 12 votes, which also prompted a recount. This time, only five votes separate the two candidates.

Vasecka on Wednesday told the Missoula Current she plans on filing a petition for a recount once the canvass is finished, so long as the margin between the two candidates remains below 0.25%.

“Four years ago the count was the exact same as originally reported,” she said. “But four years ago, voters only received a ballot by mail if they requested an absentee ballot. This year, every voter received a ballot by mail. Because of this, I believe there are more opportunities for error, and I want to ensure that everyone’s vote is counted the way they intended it to.”

Council members John Contos and Kristen Jordan chat with fellow council member Sandra Vasecka and her son. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)
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Council member Sandra Vasecka, right, and her son. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)
Vasecka, one of the only conservatives on City Council who mostly votes on the side of taxpayers, said she knew losing her bid for reelection was a possibility.

“I knew losing was an option, especially since I go against the flow of the majority of my colleagues for many items that come before us,” she said. “I had two contingency plans in place, and as of yesterday, I was offered a third option. It’s such a cliché, but I truly understand now why many folks leaving public office say they’re excited to spend more time with their family.”

Vasecka said she entered her first term not fully understanding the “time, energy and mental space” required for the job. It’s not easy work, she said, and with a young child, time for family is important.

“Even when I’m with my family, the city and my constituents are always on my mind,” she said. “If the count goes the way it currently is, I’m excited to fully be present with my husband and my quickly growing two-year-old boy. If the needle moves and I excitedly do get four more years, I’m eager to continue to fight for fiscal responsibility.”

Photos of the Ward 6 recount in 2019

Election officials prepare to deal with the Ward 6 recount in 2019. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)
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Election officials prepare to deal with the Ward 6 recount in 2019. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

The last City Council race to have a recount also took place in Ward 6 in 2019. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current File)
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The last City Council race to have a recount also took place in Ward 6 in 2019. Candidates Sandra Vasecka, right, and Nick Shontz, left, look on. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current File)

County officials conduct the 2019 recount. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)
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County officials conduct the 2019 recount. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

Former Missoula County Elections Administrator Dayna Causby oversees the 2019 recount. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)
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Former Missoula County Elections Administrator Dayna Causby oversees the 2019 recount in Ward 6. (Martin Kidston/Missoula Current)

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