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Tight race may trigger recount

Chad Miller expanded his lead to 25 votes over Councilor Kay Brooks in the extremely tight race for the Ward 3 seat on Medford City Council.

That small lead is not enough to trigger an automatic recount, when the difference between the total votes of the candidates amounts to less than 0.2%, rounded up to 10 votes in the case of Brooks and Miller.

The total vote count for the two candidates is 4,601, with Miller getting 2,313, or 33.71%, to Brooks 2,288, or 33.35%, a 0.36% difference.

“I was definitely surprised by the results,” said Brooks, who is considering calling for a recount after the election is certified Nov. 23.

Miller was ahead by two votes when the early returns were announced Tuesday night but then expanded the lead as the counting continued.

Neither candidate wanted to call the election because there were still outstanding ballots that hadn’t been counted.

Brooks said she’s considering paying for a recount if the results are still close.

“I’m just going to stick it out and see what happens,” she said.

Brooks said she went to Jackson County Elections Wednesday morning and was told there were still thousands of ballots left to count.

Miller said he would wait for a more clear-cut confirmation before declaring victory.

“I’m going to wait,” he said. “I don’t want to count my chickens before the eggs have hatched.”

Miller credits his family’s connections in the community and the fact that he’s a sheriff’s deputy for his strong showing against the incumbent.

He said he thought his views on tougher police enforcement resonated with voters.

“I think the problems we have in the community have to do with the homeless and all the crimes,” he said.

He said Brooks didn’t clearly state her support for the police as they try to deal with these issues, which he though hurt her reelection bid.

Brooks, countering Miller’s criticism, said, “I said I supported all our people in uniform. That includes both firefighters and police.”

Jackson County Clerk Chris Walker said Brooks would have to pay for the recount if she has greater than a 0.2% vote gap with Miller.

Brooks wouldn’t have to pay for the recount if the new total showed she managed to pull ahead of her opponent.

Walker said she didn’t know yet how much it would cost for a recount.

Walker said her workers will continue to verify signatures, receive ballots from other counties and resolve other issues before the election is certified.

She said a lot of the ballot percentages will be moving targets over the coming weeks as these issues get resolved.

As of Wednesday afternoon 78.7% of the 80.1% of ballots cast had been accepted. She said there are still questions on some of the cast ballots, mostly signatures that don’t match or lack of signatures. In some cases, voters will get a notice in the mail to resolve these issues within 14 days after the election, though not all voters respond to these notices in time.

Also she will continue to receive ballots that Jackson County voters cast in other parts of the state.

On Wednesday afternoon, Republicans had 90.1% of the ballots accepted out of 91.1% that were cast.

Democrats had 89.2% of ballots accepted out of 90.3% cast.

Nonaffiliated voters had 57.8% of ballots accepted out of 59.6% cast.

All other political parties had 78.9% of ballots accepted out of 80.5% cast.

Again, Jackson County Elections will be reviewing ballots that had issues with signatures or other problems before they are counted.

Walker estimated that as many as 1,000 ballots could be added to the countywide totals by the time the election is certified.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @reporterdm.

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