Montana sheriff’s race recount gets muddier

Roundup recount
Musselshell County Sheriff’s candidate Ronnie Burns, right, and Undersheriff Shawn Lesnik, at center holding papers, watch as the county’s staff members attempt a recount in a contentious battle over ballots in Roundup on Friday.

The losing candidate in the Musselshell County sheriff’s race has blamed the elections administrator for his loss and secured a court-ordered recount with rules that could reverse it.

An attorney for the county is agreeing to the judge’s rules and has said taxpayers should foot the bill for the recount.

But an attorney for the winning candidate is crying foul, saying the recount rules are illegal and the county’s attorney is not defending the elections administrator against the “baseless allegations” that set the stage for the recount.

Ronnie Burns lost in November to current Undersheriff Shawn Lesnik by 1.67 percent of the vote, or by 41 votes. The loss put Burns outside the bounds for a recount, since state law requires a margin of 0.5 percent or less.

Burns’ only recourse was to seek a court order saying some votes might have been improperly counted — which he sought Nov. 26 and got Dec. 6.

Judge Katharine Bidegaray, of the Seventh Judicial District in Eastern Montana, granted the recount after Burns made allegations about wrongdoing on the part of Musselshell…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.