Update 4:37 p.m. Ashley Harada has kept her lead and will become a state District Court judge in Yellowstone County following a recount.
After the Thursday recount, Harada’s margin improved by six votes to 25 over challenger Juli Pierce. Harada won the race, 30,205 to 30,080.
After the first count, Harada was leading by 19 votes. The margin was close enough for Pierce to call for a taxpayer-funded recount, which cost about $20,000.
BILLINGS – A recount in the race for state District Court judge was moving steadily Thursday, according to Yellowstone County Elections Administrator Bret Rutherford.
“We are about halfway through,” said Rutherford at about 10:30 a.m.
Rutherford said the ballot count had only changed by four at that point in the day.
Roughly 25 temporary workers and 17 elections staff members were packed into the Yellowstone County Commissioner’s boardroom to recount the ballots by hand.
Candidate for the position Juli Pierce lost to Ashley Harada during the Nov. 6 general election. She then filed a petition with the Secretary of State’s Office when tallied votes showed Pierce was defeated by Harada 30,249 votes to 30,130.
The 119 vote difference is 0.196 percent, which is within the 0.25 percent requirement for a recount paid for by the county.
The recount staff is made up of polling and commissioner’s staff.
On Thursday Harada was present at the recount, however Pierce was in Helena at the time, according to Rutherford.
Rutherford anticipates the recount will cost the county $20,000 and believes the recount could wrap up by Thursday late afternoon or Friday morning.