, Muskogee, OK


September 8, 2012

Recount confirms result of Wagoner race

Jim Hight’s county court clerk victory certified

— WAGONER  — Election workers meticulously recounted 1,799 ballots cast in the Republican primary for the county court clerk contest, but the recount did nothing to change the outcome of the race.

After verifying the integrity of storing and transporting the ballots, counters and tallyers sifted through precinct boxes, counted and then verified each ballot. At the end of the day, political newcomer Jim Hight’s runoff victory was sealed.

Rhonda Vincent, who was seeking her second term in office, requested the recount after noticing what she described as discrepancies in the “voters’ count.” The recount, while settling the outcome of the election, did little to resolve Vincent’s concerns.

“We are not happy that we were not allowed to count the signatures” on the sign-in sheets at the polling sites, Vincent said. “We don’t want to know who voted, we just wanted to see if the number of signatures matched the number of ballots counted at each precinct.”

Wagoner County Election Board Secretary Larry Wilkinson said rules promulgated by the Oklahoma State Election Board don’t provide for that option. A review of the rules confirmed Wilkinson’s comments.

“What you are seeing, that is the process,” Wilkinson said about Friday’s recount, which confirmed Hight’s 1,154-645 election night victory. “I have great faith in the new equipment and a tremendous belief in the precinct workers .. and my staff’s excellence and professionalism.”

Hight, who sat through the day-long recount, described the outcome as “anti-climactic” but expressed satisfaction nevertheless.

“It was a long day, but a very satisfying day,” Hight said, acknowledging the hard work and commitment of county election officials. “I am grateful we came out the same way we started — not a single vote changed hands.”

The Wagoner County Election Board certified Hight’s victory following the recount. Hight, who retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said he is looking forward to taking office in January. Vincent conceded her loss but said she is exploring any other options that might be available.

“At this point, as far as me retaining my position, that is over,” Vincent said. “From what I know, everything we have learned up to this point does not change who will take office in January.”

Vincent, who said the recount was to ensure her supporters’ voices were heard, said the recount was worth the effort and the $600 cost.

Their voices were heard, but not nearly loud enough to reverse Vincent’s 509-vote deficit. Even so, Vincent said it was worth the effort to challenge the election results.

“What happened is what we expected would happen,” Vincent said. “Now we have to decide what we want to go about doing or determine if we even have a case.”

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or

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