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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published November 04 2010

Recounts possible in North Dakota district 45, 21 races

North Dakota House candidates in District 45 who are likely headed for an automatic recount had mixed feelings Wednesday morning.

Andrew Marschall, a Republican who was eight votes behind in unofficial results Tuesday, said he’s on “pins and needles.”

Ed Gruchalla, the Democratic incumbent who thought he lost Tuesday night until absentee ballot results came in, said he’s “optimistic but not overly right now.”

Gruchalla received 1,930 votes, compared to Marschall’s 1,922, in complete but unofficial results.

Two representatives are elected from each district. Gruchalla received the second-highest number of votes, behind Republican Joe Heilman’s 2,362 votes.

District 45 includes portions of Fargo north of 12th Avenue North and communities to the north, such as Harwood, Reiles Acres and North River.

Cass County Auditor Mike Montplaisir said the county canvassing board meets Monday to count any absentee ballots that were postmarked Monday but arrived late.

Montplaisir said there were a few absentee ballots left to count, but he didn’t see many from District 45, so he anticipates the race will head to an automatic recount.

State law calls for an automatic recount if an individual fails to be elected by a half percent or less of the vote cast for the candidate receiving the most votes for the office sought.

The state canvassing board meets Nov. 16 to certify the election results, said Secretary of State Al Jaeger.

After that, a recount would be held in Cass County.

Meanwhile, another district in Fargo could be headed for a recount if the candidate requests one. Candidates may demand a recount if the margin they fail by is less than 2 percent of the highest vote count, Jaeger said.

In the District 21 state House race, the margin between Democrat Steve Zaiser and Republican Rachel Disrud was 0.74 percent in unofficial results.

Zaiser had 1,503 votes to Disrud’s 1,460 votes. Democrat Kathy Hogan was the top vote-getter in the race with 1,610 votes.

Disrud, who lost by 22 votes to Zaiser in 2002, said Wednesday she hadn’t decided whether she will request a recount. She plans to wait until after the results are certified.

“Races usually don’t change that much after a recount,” Disrud said. “So I would look for the statistical advice to see if that would be something that should be done.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590