Only 6 votes separate candidates in race for Utah State Legislature

SALT LAKE CITY — The latest results from Salt Lake County’s ballot count shows some extremely close races for the Utah State Legislature.

Only six votes separate stalwart Capitol Hill conservative Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, from his Democratic challenger, Suzanne Harrison. It was enough to order an automatic recount, Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen told FOX 13.

“It’s a message that every vote certainly counts,” she said Friday.

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Late Friday, Harrison took note of her close race posting on Twitter:

Other races were still to close to call, with 125 votes remaining to be counted until the final canvass on Tuesday afternoon. In the race between Rep. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City, and his challenger, Peter Tomala, there were 115 votes between them.

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Other races FOX 13 was projecting a winner. In the race for a state House seat in Midvale, incumbent Republican Rep. Bruce Cutler was holding on over Democrat Christine Passey.

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Democrat Elizabeth Weight appeared to oust incumbent Republican Rep. Sophia DiCaro for one of the seats that oversees West Valley City in the Utah House of Representatives.

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The latest election results mean Democrats in the Utah State Legislature may not pick up as many seats as they had hoped. The minority caucus on Utah’s Capitol Hill also lost a seat with Rep. Brad King, D-Price, losing to Christine Watkins, a former Democrat who switched to Republican to run for her old seat in the Utah House of Representatives.

The Salt Lake County Council looks like it will not be Democratic-controlled. The latest election numbers show Republican Richard Snelgrove defeating his Democratic challenger Catherine Kanter for one of the at-large seats on the council.

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Kanter released a statement Friday conceding the race. She stated in part:

“Thank you to my family, campaign staff, elected officials, community groups and volunteers who supported me and campaigned tirelessly on my behalf. While we didn’t win this race, I am incredibly proud of our campaign and the work we did to bring attention to the critical challenges facing our community. Our team left nothing on the table. We tackled this race with a sincere commitment to improve the lives of the residents of Salt Lake County. For that, I am exceptionally grateful.”

Swensen said the final results of the election will be canvassed on Tuesday at 4 p.m. in the Salt Lake County Council chambers.

The clerk’s office has been criticized over the slow counting of ballots. In an interview Friday with FOX 13, Swensen said the volume of mail-in ballots requires verification before tabulation and Utah state law gives them two weeks to count them. Utah Lt. Governor Spencer Cox said other counties have also had lengthy ballot counts.