Recount cements Bates' senate win

A hand recount of nearly 50,000 ballots confirmed Tuesday that state Sen. Alan Bates was the winner over his opponent, Republican Dave Dotterrer, in the Nov. 2 election.

After reviewing the results, Dotterrer said he was conceding the Senate District 3 race.

"I've called and offered my congratulations," he said.

Dotterrer, an Ashland resident, said the recount found Bates actually netted an additional seven votes, giving him a 282-vote lead instead of the advantage of 275 he had going into the recount.

Jackson County Clerk Chris Walker sent the results compiled by her staff to the Secretary of State's office for certification.

Walker said it's not unusual to have some variation between a hand count and a count tabulated by machines.

She said the official results and a statement detailing a supposed discrepancy of 322 votes would be issued by the Secretary of State's office.

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

Bates, who was in Salem Tuesday afternoon, said Dotterrer had phoned him to offer his congratulations.

Bates, a Medford Democrat, said he was looking forward to working with Dotterrer, who has agreed to become state Rep. Dennis Richardson's legislative aide this January. Richardson is a Central Point Republican.

"Hopefully, the people of this district get the best of both worlds," Bates said.

In early returns on Nov. 2, Bates trailed his opponent. But as more ballots were counted Bates took the lead and maintained it. Both the Jackson County Clerk and the Secretary of State certified the election results.

Senate Republican leaders asked for a recount, saying there was a 322-vote discrepancy between initial election results and the final results.

Elections officials said the total number of ballots cast fluctuates each time state and local elections officials update their results after the election date.

Ballots may initially show up in the total but are not in the final count for various reasons. For instance, ballots are scanned if they are dropped off after the 8 p.m. election deadline, but ultimately are not counted. Ballots dropped off locally by voters from other counties are counted initially, but are sent to the appropriate counties and counted there. Election officials attempt to track down those who forgot to sign their ballots, those whose signatures don't match their signature on record and others with issues such as address changes.

Bates said this was the longest election process he's gone through.

"It's a lot tougher than we thought it would be, but we're there," he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or e-mail

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