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State Senate incumbent bankrolls ballot recount

Baxter got 45 percent of vote

Former state Sen. Jeff Baxter is paying for a partial recount of ballots in his unsuccessful bid to retain his seat despite losing the race by more than 3,400 votes.

Baxter’s opponent in the contest, Mike Padden, was sworn in as senator representing the Spokane Valley’s 4th Legislative District on Tuesday soon after the Spokane County Canvassing Board certified the results.

Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton said Baxter submitted a check for $1,174 to recount 10 precincts. She said he was required to make a down payment of 25 cents per ballot. He will get a refund if the cost of the recount is less.

Baxter, who was appointed to the seat earlier this year, lost in the November election by 3,437 votes after garnering only 45 percent of the vote. Padden and Baxter are both Republicans. The Spokane County Democratic Party didn’t field a candidate for the race.

Reached Wednesday afternoon, Baxter declined to comment when asked if he thought the race was fair. He noted that state law doesn’t require candidates to say why they are asking for a recount and said he would answer questions after a recount is completed.

Padden said he had just been informed that Baxter had asked for a recount but didn’t know “what his rationale is.”

“The vote was pretty overwhelming. It doesn’t make sense to me,” Padden said.

Baxter’s request could mean that the scheduled recount in the Spokane City Council race between Richard Rush and Mike Allen might be done by machine. The Spokane County Canvassing Board on Tuesday voted to count ballots by hand even though the law would allow them to be recounted by machine. Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton requested a hand count to ensure new vote-counting equipment is working properly.

Dalton said Wednesday that recounting the Baxter race by hand would make recounting the Rush-Allen race manually less important. The Canvassing Board will meet at 1 p.m. today to decide how to perform the City Council recount.

State law requires taxpayer-funded recounts when the tally is within half a percentage point. But candidates can pay for recounts if the count is outside that margin.

Reporter Jim Camden contributed to this report.


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