Rep. Mia Love (R) pulled ahead of Democrat Ben McAdams in the vote count Friday in Utah’s 4th Congressional District, a positive twist for the GOP lawmaker’s campaign hours after a judge separately dismissed her lawsuit seeking to halt the counting of ballots in Salt Lake County.
As of Friday evening, Love was leading McAdams by 419 votes, or 0.16 percentage point. The latest results mark a departure from where the race stood Nov. 8, when McAdams was ahead by 6,700 votes. Utah law allows candidates to request a recount when the margin of victory is 0.25 percentage point or less.
The race is one of a handful across the country that have yet to be called more than a week after Election Day. Voting by mail is popular in Utah, and county clerks have until Nov. 20 to finish counting ballots.
Love filed a lawsuit Wednesday to stop the remaining votes in Salt Lake County from being counted until her campaign was allowed to challenge whether signatures on ballot envelopes matched those on file, a move that McAdams’s campaign opposed.
At Thursday’s court hearing, Love’s attorney argued that Salt Lake County election officials should create a process by which campaigns can challenge alleged signature discrepancies, according to the Deseret News.
McAdams’s campaign filed a motion to intervene, questioning the timing of the move and contending that it would lead to different treatment for voters in different counties. The campaign also accused Love of seeking to dilute McAdams’s share of the vote. McAdams is mayor of Salt Lake County.
The office of Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen said that while poll watchers are allowed to observe the vote-tallying process, state law does not allow them to participate in the verification of signatures.
In dismissing Love’s request, Judge James Gardner wrote Friday that he was declining to “create new rights not found in the Election Code,” the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
“The Court recognizes the potential constitutional problems that could result from applying different rules to different voters,” he wrote.
The lawsuit was one of several that have been filed in midterm campaigns following the Nov. 6 election. In several of the campaigns, candidates and their supporters have made allegations of voter fraud, sometimes unfounded.
In New Mexico, a hearing was held Friday on a lawsuit filed by Rep. Yvette Herrell (R), who has refused to concede to her Democratic opponent, Xochitl Torres Small. Herrell has not presented any evidence of fraud but has requested that ballots in one county be impounded and inspected. The Associated Press has called the race for Torres Small.
And in Florida’s hotly contested Senate race between Sen. Bill Nelson (D) and Gov. Rick Scott (R), more than 10 lawsuits have been filed amid an acrimonious recount that has echoed the bitter 2000 election.
President Trump had called out Love by name at a combative White House news conference the day after Election Day, arguing that she and other lawmakers had been defeated because they had not been sufficiently supportive of him. McAdams was ahead in the vote count when Trump made his remarks, although the race had not been called.
“Mia Love gave me no love, and she lost,” Trump said. “Too bad. Sorry about that, Mia.”