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Owens leads McAdams by 1,600 votes in Utah’s 4th Congressional District race

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Burgess Owens, 4th Congressional District Republican candidate, participates in a Utah Debate Commission debate with his opponent Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, not pictured, at the Triad Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Republican Burgess Owens remains ahead of Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams in Utah’s close 4th Congressional District race with the latest vote count from Salt Lake County Thursday, but there are still more ballots to be tabulated.

Owens’ lead over McAdams dropped 81 votes from Wednesday to 1,616 in the district that includes portions of Salt Lake, Utah, Sanpete and Juab counties. Salt Lake County, where most of the 4th District voters live, is still counting what is believed to be several thousand outstanding provisional ballots in the race.

Thursday, the former NFL player, author and frequent Fox News guest had 47.47% of the overall vote so far to 47.03% for the first-term congressman. McAdams won the seat in 2018 by less than 700 votes, defeating two-term Republican Rep. Mia Love.

Only about an additional 3,000 votes from Salt Lake County were posted Thursday, and Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen said there may now not be another update until Saturday as her office works to verify the eligibility of the provisional ballots cast, as well as questionable signatures on some ballots.

There are more than 11,000 provisional ballots countywide that need to be verified, she said, and another 2,000 with signature issues that could be resolved before Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline. It is not clear how many of those ballots are from 4th District voters.

Ballots postmarked by Nov. 2 in the largely by-mail election can still be received by noon Tuesday, the day results will be certified by the county.

Utah County election officials, who estimated earlier this week there may be several hundred 4th District votes outstanding, have said there will be an update on Friday.

Both candidates are waiting for more definitive results.

“A very close race no doubt, looking forward to getting the rest of the ballots counted,” Owens’ campaign spokesman, Jesse Ranney, said. “I’m confident when they’re all in Burgess will be representing the 4th District in Washington.”

Again Thursday, McAdams’ campaign manager, Andrew Roberts, noted that the congressman trailed Love in the 2018 race before the provisional ballots were counted. It took two weeks before that race was called for McAdams, and nearly another week before Love gave a concession speech.

“Thousands of ballots remain to be tabulated,” Roberts said. “Congressman McAdams came from behind two years ago and ended up as the winner. We are awaiting the next update.”