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Election 2018

The final ballots of this past week's election were counted Tuesday. The provisional ballots added to the margin for passage of the nearly $16-million bond that will be used for a major building project at the Florence-Carlton School District. 

Ravalli County’s final election results will have to wait until late Tuesday afternoon for all the votes to be counted.

Due to a large voter turnout, county election officials have 400 provisional ballots to tally before the numbers can be made official.

“You have a higher turnout and you end up with a higher number of provisional ballots,” said Ravalli County Election Administrator Regina Plettenberg. “That’s just a normal part of the process.”

Across the state, election officials will begin counting provisional ballots at 3 p.m.

The only ballot measure that potentially impacted by the provisional ballots is the Florence-Carlton School District nearly $16 million bond that is so far passing by a total of 64 votes.

Plettenberg said there about 60 provisional ballots for that district that remain to be counted. In Missoula County, there were 10.

The county commission will perform its final canvas of the votes on Nov. 20.

A strong Republican turnout in Ravalli County Tuesday led to sweep in local, state and federal races.

Voters also approved a county levy to support adult literacy.

The midterm turnout of 74 percent of the electorate far outpaced past midterms and was on par for the last presidential election when 23,355 voters cast their ballots.

On Tuesday, 23,200 voters in Ravalli County either went to the polls or voted absentee, Plettenberg said. There were 15,116 absentee ballots cast and 8,086 voters went to the polls Tuesday.

The results – short of the 400 provisional ballots that remain to be counted -- showed Republican Matt Rosendale easily outpacing incumbent U.S. Senator Jon Tester 13,426 to 8,995. Libertarian candidate Rick Breckenridge had 613 votes. Tester won the statewide race.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte nearly doubled Democratic challenger Kathleen Williams' votes by a margin of 14,280 to 8,150. Libertarian candidate Elinor Swans had 585 votes. Gianforte was named the winner.

Three of the contested races for state government in Ravalli County pitted brand new candidates from both sides of the aisle.

Hamilton-area businessman Jason Ellsworth, a Republican, defeated organic farmer, Laura Garber, who was running as an Independent for Senate District 43 by vote of 6,891 to 4,210.

Republican Dave Bedey, a U.S. Army veteran and engineer, garnered 64 percent of the vote in defeating Democrat Jason Nickisch, a pharmacist, for State Representative District 86 3,442 to 1,936.

Republican Sharon Greef earned the opportunity to replace her husband, Ed, to represent House District 88. Greef defeated Democrat challenger Margaret Gorski by a vote of 3,608 to 2,099. Ed Greef couldn't run again due to term limits.

Republican Rep. Theresa Manzella easily won another term over Democrat challenger, Laura Jackson, by a vote of 4,121 to 1,781

Incumbent County Commissioner Greg Chilcott coasted to another term over challenger Lyndsay Stover, a Democrat, with a vote of 15,145 to 7,317.

Incumbent Justice of the Peace Jim Bailey earned 54 percent of the vote in defeating former sheriff, Perry Johnshon, by a vote of 10,526 to 8,944.

The 1.5 mill levy to support adult literacy passed with 54 percent of the vote at 12,082 to provide the additional funding to 10,378 opposed.

In state ballot issues, Ravalli County voters supported the continuation of a 6-mill levy for higher education, 11,476 to 10,596, and rejected proposals to raise taxes on tobacco to pay for expanded Medicaid services to low income adults by a vote 13,714 to 9,080. They also opposed I-186, a requirement that new hard rock mines in the state provide clear evidence that they wouldn’t require perpetual treatment of polluted water, by a vote of 13,520 to 9,105.

Ravalli County voters supported a referendum that would prohibit the collection of ballots by anyone other than family members, caregivers or household members with a vote of 14,254 to 7,496.

Both Bitterroot Conservation Superintendents retained their seats. Bob Nelson defeated challenger William (Bill) Campbell by a vote of 8,281 to 7,435. Jeffrey Mark won with a vote of 10,158 to Lee Foss’ 7,141.

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Associate Editor

Reporter for The Ravalli Republic.