State GOP could take Senate race to courts

Oregon Republican leaders say they are prepared to challenge the Senate District 3 election in the courts if a recount finds problems in the way ballots were processed.

"We could ask a court for a re-vote," said Greg Leo, spokeswoman for the Oregon Republican Party.

On Friday, Republican leaders officially requested a hand recount of some 50,000 ballots in the race between Sen. Alan Bates and Dave Dotterrer.

Leo said there is a discrepancy of about 320 votes in the number of ballots posted by the Secretary of State on Nov. 3.

The request follows a certification of the election results Thursday by the Secretary of State that found Bates, a Medford Democrat, leads Dotterrer, an Ashland Republican by 275 votes.

Bates previously said he has no objection to the Republicans' decision to ask for a recount, but thinks challenging the election in the courts would be "ridiculous."

The Republican leaders have questioned a discrepancy in the results that they claim has resulted in 322 missing ballots.

Sen. Ted Ferrioli, a Republican from John Day, made the request, submitting a $465 deposit from The Leadership Fund.

The outcome of the race is critical in the makeup of the Oregon Legislature, with Bates' election giving Democrats a 16-14 majority in the Senate. The House is tied 30-30 between the two parties.

The recount would be paid by Republican Senate leaders at a cost of up to $25,000.

Andrea Cantu, spokesperson for the Secretary of State, said there has been nothing to suggest that any ballots went missing .

A total of 78,960 ballots were counted in Jackson County. The number of unaccepted ballots was 1,048. Of those, 185 were unsigned, 668 had signatures that didn't match those on record and 195 were sent in late.

The Secretary of State did not prepare a similar accounting specifically for Senate District 3 and the more than 50,000 ballots received in that district.

Cantu said there is no deadline for completion of the recount and no estimates have been made as to how long it will take.

Jackson County Elections Center officials, under the oversight of both parties, went through a review of questionable ballots for weeks after the election was over.

Leo said the Republican Party has asked for, but hasn't received, sufficient clarification about the 322 ballots.

He said he hopes the recount process will resolve issues about the election.

"I know they would like to pooh-pooh this, but we think the legitimacy of the process is in question," he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or e-mail dmann@mailtribune.com.


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