BILLINGS — Republican Sandy Welch dropped her request for a recount in the state schools superintendent race on Tuesday after failing to come up with $115,000 to cover the costs of the effort.
Welch had pledged since the days following the Nov. 6 election to challenge her 2,231-vote defeat to incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau.
But facing a 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline to come up with money to cover the costs of recounting ballots, she abruptly dropped her request with just a few hours to go. She told The Associated Press that some financial pledges did not come through, and that she was unable to finance the recount herself.
She was required under state law to cover the costs of a hand recount in each of Montana's 56 counties.
"Getting that kind of dollar figure was more than we raised in the entire year (leading up to the election), and it was going to be a big stretch," she said. "We thought we could pull it off and we were still talking to people today, but it just didn't happen in time."
She declined to detail how much she fell short or what pledges fell through. She had earlier said the Republican National Committee would provide as much as $100,000 for the effort.
Representatives of the RNC did not respond to requests for comment.
Candidates can request a recount if the margin of victory is one-half of 1 percent or less. Welch lost by a 0.48 percent margin.
The Republican candidate's attorneys went to state District Court in Flathead County last week to ask state District Judge Stewart Stadler to order the recount based on allegations of widespread voting glitches.
They alleged problems with ballot machines and other issues in Lewis and Clark, Yellowstone, Beaverhead, Missoula and other counties could have skewed the Election Day results.
Stadler issued an order Tuesday setting a Dec. 17 date for the start of a statewide recount. But that was contingent upon Welch depositing $115,000 in cash with the Flathead County election administrator.
Welch said her attorneys were filing motions with Stadler's court to withdraw her case Tuesday afternoon.
With the election finally behind her, Welch, who lives in Miles City, said she is likely to return to her prior work as an education consultant.
She added that she hopes her case proves instructive for state elections officials and that they will address the problems she alleged in the voting process.