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A nail-biter primary race for a Utah House seat see-sawed back and forth Friday as additional election results were tallied.
Challenger Logan Wilde, a Morgan County commissioner, is currently sitting on a wobbly seven-vote lead over one-time House speaker and veteran Rep. Mel Brown, R-Coalville at least until Tuesday, when additional results will be added to the mix.
Wilde finished 64 votes ahead on election night, but the tally flipped briefly Friday afternoon, with Brown gaining ground and holding a seven-vote edge midday, before another roughly 100 votes were added to the mix and put Wilde back in front.
The winner in the House 53 Republican primary will advance to face Democrat Cole Capener in November.
In years past, new votes would not be added to the election night returns until the counties hold their official canvass, usually two weeks later. But under a new law, clerks now do four updates to the preliminary numbers. The first came Friday, with further updates scheduled for Tuesday, Friday and July 12.
The one caveat, according to state elections director Mark Thomas, is that counties have to submit at least 21 votes at a time, so the change in the tally can't be traced to an individual voter that way the vote can remain secret.
Morgan County, for example, didn't have 21 ballots to add to the tally in the Wilde-Brown race.
Thomas said he expects that there are probably fewer than 5 percent of the ballots remaining to be added to the totals. They could be mail-in ballots that were postmarked before Election Day but arrived later, or provisional ballots cast because, for example, the voters' names weren't on the rolls or they didn't have the proper identification and staff at the clerk's offices have to do more work to verify their eligibility.
"I like it and I think the clerks like it, too," Thomas said of the change in reporting results. "Although it is more work. We're here working when usually we'd be sleeping after the election."
In two other close legislative races, incumbents slightly widened their leads.
Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, finished Friday with a 196 lead over challenger Glen Jenkins, up from her 163-vote election night edge. The winner in this House District 20 primary goes on to face Democrat Jon Marsh in November.
Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove, led Xani Haynie by 181 votes after the update, up from 179 election night. The primary victor will automatically claim the House 57 seat in January because there is no general-election challenger.