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Dahlman confirmed winner in Kalispell Ward 3 recount

by BRET ANNE SERBIN
Daily Inter Lake | November 16, 2021 3:20 PM

Calls of “10, Jessica” and “10, Rod” rang out through a packed county conference room Tuesday afternoon during a recount election for Kalispell’s Ward 3 City Council representative.

Jessica Dahlman was confirmed as the winner after the recount, narrowly defeating Rod Kuntz by eight votes, 451 to 443 — the same count that was tallied in the Nov. 2 municipal election.

“I knew that they would come out the same,” said Dahlman. “I had confidence in the integrity of the Flathead County Elections Office.

“When it comes so close like this, it’s only natural to want a recount, and that’s why we have the statutes written the way they are,” she added. “And I am happy to be the new Ward 3 councilor for Kalispell.”

Under state law, a defeated candidate can request a recount when they lose “by a margin not exceeding 10 votes,” or if the candidate “is defeated by a margin not exceeding 1/4 of 1% of the total votes cast” — whichever is greater.

The defeated candidate must file a petition for a recount “within 5 days after the official canvass.”

It took about an hour to complete the recount. The Flathead County commissioners and three assistants hand-counted the votes that were originally machine-tabulated on Nov. 2.

“It’s the prudent thing to do when an election is this close,” said Kuntz.

He called the election “a big win” because it demonstrated “election integrity under the microscope at the local level.”

The recount only turned up one question over whether one vote was counted as an absentee or an election day ballot, but it didn’t change the candidate totals.

Reporter Bret Anne Serbin may be reached at 406-758-4459 or bserbin@dailyinterlake.com.