MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

November 21, 2012

Loser wants new election in state House race

NORMAN (AP) – A woman who lost an Oklahoma House race by a mere 16 votes says there were so many irregularities in the Norman-area election that it’s not possible to tell who really won, and she wants a new election.

Democrat Paula Roberts has filed a petition that alleges 10 different irregularities make it “impossible to determine with mathematical certainty which candidate is entitled to a certificate of election.” A hearing was held Tuesday, but the judge did not hand down a ruling on Roberts’ request for another election.

Additional testimony is planned for Nov. 30.

A recount of the results of the close Nov. 6 election for the House District 45 seat showed Republican Rep. Aaron Stiles had defeated Roberts by 16 votes.

Roberts’ lawyer, Gregory Bledsoe, questioned Cleveland County Election Board officials during Tuesday’s hearing. He said ballots cast by voters who did not have valid identification were treated differently than those from people who did have ID, which he called unconstitutional.

“We believe they were treated unequally,” Bledsoe told District Judge Tracy Schumacher.

Among the allegations is that ineligible voters were allowed to cast ballots while some validly registered voters were not. Roberts also alleges that absentee ballots were improperly secured and that mistakes were made with both provisional ballots and voting machines.

Roberts claims that more than 30 provisional ballots cast in the election were improperly not counted. But election board officials said they were excluded for legally valid reasons including that addresses provided by voters on their provisional ballot affidavit did not match information on voter registration records.

Bledsoe said he wants the court to count the provisional ballots that he claims were improperly excluded. But Schumacher said state law does not give her the authority to order the ballots counted.

Election Board officials have acknowledged the office made mistakes during the general election. A box containing 60 absentee ballots was discovered two days after the election, but the House race’s original 18-vote margin remained unchanged after those ballots were counted.

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