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Bates maintains slim lead in state Senate race

With fewer than 1,000 problem ballots yet to be resolved late Monday, Republican challenger Dave Dotterrer narrowed his deficit against incumbent Sen. Alan Bates for Oregon Senate District 3 — but not by much.

As of 2 p.m. Monday, results showed Dotterrer had 23,961 votes, or 49.67 percent, to Bates' 24,217, or 50.21 percent, a difference of 256 votes. Bates had led Dotterrer by 264 votes late Friday.

Neither candidate is calling the race.

"We are not claiming victory. N-O-T not," Bates said Monday. "If Dotterrer wants to concede that's fine. That's his choice. That's his decision. We are not claiming victory. I will hopefully never be so arrogant to do something like that — not in a race like this."

Dotterrer said he would wait for the "final, final" vote tally. He said he had not decided whether to concede or to seek a recount if the total ends in Bates' favor.

Jackson County Clerk Chris Walker urged residents who received letters saying there was a problem with their signature to get it resolved as quickly as possible.

"We want to count your vote," she said. "That's our job. So don't ignore those letters."

She said people with problem ballots could mail in a new voter registration card or come directly to the Elections Office at 1101 W. Main St., Medford, but the new signature must be received by 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12.

She said those who resolve signature problems now will avoid another problem in the next election.

Walker said another round of results would be released this morning.

Dotterrer and the Republican Senate leadership has said it might request a recount in the race, but members will have to wait until after the election is certified on Monday, Nov. 22.

An automatic recount would not occur unless the vote difference was within one-fifth of 1 percent of the total votes cast, or just under 100 votes given the estimated totals of about 49,000 ballots.

The race is being closely watched around the state because it appears Democrats in the state Senate would hold a one-seat advantage if Bates were re-elected. If Dotterrer prevailed, the Senate makeup would likely be tied at 15-15.

A state Senate seat in the Canby area apparently will go to Republican challenger Alan Olsen, who holds a 225-vote edge over Democratic incumbent Martha Schrader. Although the final tally is not official, Clackamas County's chief elections officer said the advantage would not be overcome.

Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall said the votes tallied Monday give Olsen a 225-vote edge over Schrader with only 130 challenged votes yet to count.

"This is not going to change," Hall said.