After nearly 20,000 votes were cast, merely 102 ballots separated candidates in the race for state Senate District 15. Democrat Deborah Simpson upset Republican incumbent Lois Snowe-Mello by 0.5 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results.

State election officials say they have begun the process of verifying the initial results, at the request of political party officials.

“We’ve been asked to look at numbers,” said Julie Flynn, Maine’s deputy secretary of state, who runs the Bureau of Corporation, Elections and Commissions. “We don’t typically get the returns from the towns until Friday in the mail, but we have put in calls to the towns involved in (this race), so that we can get those results earlier if we can.”

Flynn said verifying the voting results from the towns is the state’s first priority in close races. Recounts can be requested by trailing candidates up to five business days after Election Day, Flynn said.

The Legislature recently changed the rules on automatic recounts, which had been in place for races within a margin of 1 percent. The state no longer automatically recounts any races, but if the race is within 2 percentage points, no processing fee is assessed.

Snowe-Mello declined to concede the race late Tuesday night and said she plans on requesting a recount based on the closeness of the race.

Flynn said she thought it was likely she would receive a recount request, but as of Wednesday afternoon, none had officially been filed.

“Senate races generally take a full day to recount,” Flynn said. “We have 20 days from the election to submit official results to the governor.”

Snowe-Mello was seeking her third term in the state Senate and Simpson had just completed four terms in the Maine House, serving District 69.

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