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Candidates for 135th Missouri House district react to necessary recount

Published: Nov. 10, 2020 at 9:20 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - People in east and central Springfield will have to wait a little longer to find out who will represent them in the Missouri House of Representatives. The race for the 135th district between Betsy Fogle and Steve Helms is officially headed for a recount.

For Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller and his staff, the work did not stop after Election Day. In fact, he said, his office has two weeks to verify results before considering them official.

“We do need pretty much the entire of those two weeks prior to certification that we send to the Secretary of State any time we have a major election like we had last Tuesday," Schoeller said.

Since voters went to the polls on Nov. 3, bipartisan teams have recounted every race to make sure machines worked properly, which he said is a state requirement. They received some absentee, provisional and military absentee ballots as well.

“So now all of those ballots have now been added into the uncertified total that we released on election night," Schoeller said.

Those unofficial numbers resulted in a race that’s too close to call.

Schoeller said the state requires a recount in any race if the difference between the two top vote-getters is less than or equal to one half of a percent. After official counts Tuesday, Betsy Fogle is leading the race by .45 percent, which is a difference of 80 votes.

For both candidates, this is a first. Neither expected the need for a recount. Steve Helms, a Republican, has held the seat since 2016.

“I’ve won before and I’ve lost before, so that’s not new, the outcome. It’s just the process is just lengthened. We were all hoping for a victory on Nov. 3 or a definitive answer," Helms said.

Betsy Fogle, a Democrat, said the wait has given her a new perspective on the entire process.

“We as the voters have this misconception that you go and you vote and you snap your fingers and the process is done, but the county clerk’s office has so much work to do on the back-end that we as the voters don’t see,” Fogle said.

Schoeller said his office is working to offer transparency, especially in the tightest races.

“The only thing that we don’t want to ever reveal is how a voter voted in terms of the person and their ballot, but everything else should be open and transparent and that’s what this is about," he said.

Schoeller expects the recount to happen on Thursday and Friday this week. He said it will be open to the public. The office will announce where that will take place.

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