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Election canvass to reveal final tally in Jim Matheson-Mia Love race

Published: Monday, Nov. 19 2012 5:55 p.m. MST

4th Congressional District candidates Rep. Jim Matheson and Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love participate in their second debate on KSL 5 News in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Though usually a formality, there is some intrigue in the volatile 4th Congressional District as counties statewide release final tallies Tuesday from this month's general election.

Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson edged Republican Mia Love on Election Day 49.3 percent to 48.1 percent — a difference of 2,646 votes. Libertarian candidate Jim Vein picked up 2.6 percent.

The election isn't official until each county totals absentee, provisional and other ballots and certifies the results. By law, that is done no more than two weeks after the election. Rarely does the canvass change the outcome of a race. But the slim margin in the 4th District has the Love camp in wait-and-see mode.

"We still have some votes we need to count. It's not all set in stone until the (Nov.) 20th, so we'll just wait," Love said last week.

Love won't be around for the report as she planned to be at Disneyworld this week.

The Matheson campaign expects the votes in Salt Lake, Utah, Juab and Sanpete counties to track the same as ballots cast Nov. 6 and isn't worried about the outcome changing.

Another close race is in Utah House District 31 where incumbent Rep. Larry Wiley, D-Salt Lake, has a 163-vote lead over Republican challenger Fred C. Johnson.

There are more than 64,000 mail-in, provisional and paper ballots between the four counties, parts of which make up the 4th District. Residents who have moved but didn't register in their new precincts receive provisional ballots. People who don't want to use electronic voting machines may cast paper ballots. Counties must validate those ballots before they're counted.

Salt Lake County has nearly 44,000 outstanding ballots, but County Clerk Sherrie Swensen said it is unknown how many belong to 4th District voters. Utah County has 3,466 mail-in and provisional ballots in the district.

Swensen said Salt Lake County is still counting votes, and will be until noon Tuesday. Mail-in ballots postmarked by Nov. 5 may be received and counted up until that time. The county didn't receive any ballots Monday but had five come in last Friday, she said.

"We're close," Swensen said of the final tallies. "We don't finalize any of the totals until we get past that noon time frame."

On Tuesday, Swensen and other county clerks will report final results to their county commissions or councils, which act as the board of canvassers. The board then votes whether to accept the report.

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com, Twitter: dennisromboy

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