State Republican leaders are calling for a recount in a Senate race in which incumbent Alan Bates holds a slight lead over his opponent, Dave Dotterrer.
Dotterrer supports the decision by GOP leaders to pay for a recount in District 3 after the election is certified by the Secretary of State's Office on Dec. 2.
"I think it's necessary," said Dotterrer, an Ashland Republican. "It's the right thing to do."
Bates, a Medford Democrat, holds a 275-vote lead in an election that generated nearly 49,000 votes.
"They have a right to ask for a recount," Bates said. "I will honor that, and I expected it. It's nothing I would do personally, but I respect it."
Bates said he didn't think a recount would change the outcome.
He expressed confidence in the Jackson County Clerk's Office in accounting for all the ballots and performing its responsibilities in a careful, legal and morally correct manner. "They worked hard," he said. "There are no missing votes."
Even though Republican leaders will pay for the recount, Bates said it will still put a burden on the Elections Center staff.
Bates said he has also heard rumblings that Republican leaders may file a legal challenge if the recount doesn't change the outcome.
Republican leaders hope Dotterrer will ultimately defeat Bates, wresting more control of the Senate from Democrats.
Senate GOP leader Ted Ferrioli said there were more ballots turned in than were counted. Results show the difference to be 320 ballots — enough to swing the election to Dotterrer if he won nearly all of them, he said.
"You have to ask yourself: 'Are they in a box somewhere? Did they fall behind a file cabinet? Where are they?'" Ferrioli said.
In every election, a number of ballots are not counted because of invalid signatures or no signatures. Other ballots had the wrong addresses and the voters' new addresses couldn't be verified. Local elections officials spent considerable time checking ballots and verifying signatures.
Ben Unger, director of the Senate Democratic Leadership Fund, said the GOP is acting rashly in calling for a recount before the secretary of state certifies the election on Dec. 2. The Elections Center in Medford already certified the results on Nov. 19, forwarding them to the state for review.
"We're all pretty disappointed about the premature call for a recount in this election," Unger said. "I think if they're going to say there is a problem, they should wait until they see what the results are."
Dotterrer said the vote was very close, and it's important that every ballot be accounted for. He said he has been discussing the question of a recount with Republican leaders since the Nov. 2 election.
He said he wasn't surprised that the election results are not definitive enough for Republicans at this point. "It's a process, and the process takes this long," he said.
A recount can't be formally requested until elections results are certified on Thursday. An automatic recount was not triggered because the margin of difference was more than 0.2 percent, or 97 votes.
Senate Republicans will have to cover the $15,000 to $25,000 cost of a hand recount.
Damian Mann is a reporter for the Mail Tribune. Reach him at 541-776-4476, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The Associated Press also contributed to this story.