GLASGOW – Per the request of Matt Bevin to have a recanvass for the governor/lieutenant governor election that took place Tuesday, the Barren County Board of Elections has scheduled the proceeding according to law, said County Clerk Helena Chase Birdwell.
Candidates had until 4 p.m. the Tuesday after the election to request a recanvass, and if such a request is filed in writing, the applicable board of elections is to convene at 9 a.m. the Thursday after that deadline, according to Kentucky Revised Statutes.
“Unofficial vote totals currently show Bevin with a 5,189-vote deficit to his opponent, Andy Beshear,” a press release from Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes' office advising of Bevin's recanvass request filed Wednesday states.
Birdwell said the local board of elections' recanvass will take place in the Barren County Fiscal Court Conference Room, a room directly adjoining the fiscal court chambers on the third floor of the Barren County Government Center.
“We will look at each candidate in that race,” she said. “We will be comparing the results of the printouts from each voting machine on Election Day with the countywide tabulation sheet used election night.”
The totals from the paper "tapes" will be re-added to ensure they were calculated correctly on election night.
The board will not be looking at individual ballots for this process, as would be done with a recount.
“In a recanvass, we don't touch the voting machines or anything like that,” Birdwell said.
The recount process provided for in Kentucky law does not apply to the races of governor/lieutenant governor and certain others, so Bevin’s recourse following the recanvass would be to formally contest the election. If he were to choose that route, he has 30 days to contest the outcome once it’s certified by the State Board of Elections, which is scheduled to meet Nov. 21.
According to Kentucky law, a board consisting of three Senate members and eight members of the Kentucky House of Representatives, the selection of whom is to be done by name drawings, are to be selected "to try the contested election and give true judgment thereon according to the evidence." That board, with a vote of at least six, would report its decision to a joint session of the Senate and House, and the General Assembly would then make the final decision.
After the election Tuesday, Bevin, the incumbent Republican governor, specified that he was not conceding the race “by any stretch,” according to video recordings of his speech.
“We know for a fact that there have been more than a few irregularities. They are very well corroborated. … What they are exactly, how many, which ones and what effect, if any, they have will be determined by law that's well established," he contended.
Robert Stivers, president of the Kentucky Senate, according to a Courier-Journal report, commented that same night that the Kentucky General Assembly, both chambers of which are controlled by Republicans, could end up deciding the race. He later told the Associated Press that both the recanvass and an application to contest the election would “have a very high bar to succeed," but the Senate would “fulfill its requirements with the upmost objectivity and impartiality."
At a press conference Bevin called Wednesday, he said the recanvass would ensure that every tally is accurate and there were no transposed numbers or anything of that sort.
“What we know is that there really are a number of significant irregularities, the specifics of which – we're in the process of getting affidavits and other information that will help us to get a better understanding of what did or did not happen,” he said. "We know there have been thousands of absentee ballots that were illegally counted. ... We know that there are reports of people having been turned away, incorrectly turned away from various voting booths around the state. ... We know that in Jefferson County, there were a number of machines that did not work properly, so ballots were taken and just put in open boxes, and people were told they'd be scanned in later. They may have been; they may not have been. We truly don't know.”
He said that last situation happened in multiple locations, and he offered no evidence at that point.
“We want the people of Kentucky to have absolute confidence that their votes were counted as they should have been counted, that the law was followed …,” Bevin said of his request.
Meanwhile, various other media outlets have reported, Beshear has been forming his transition team and setting priorities for when he takes office. The gubernatorial inauguration is supposed to, by law, take place Dec. 10 this year.
The Associated Press reports that even from members of Bevin's own party are hesitant for him to pursue a contest without sufficient evidence to back up his assertions.
Comer, for example, said Bevin’s request for a recanvass of Tuesday’s vote count is understandable, but without proof of massive fraud or irregularities, Bevin could produce a dangerous signal by formally contesting the election, putting the outcome in the hands of lawmakers.
“If the Republicans in the General Assembly tried to undo an election, that’s kind of what we’ve been criticizing the Democrats in Washington of trying to do with this baseless impeachment inquiry,” Comer said.
GOP state Rep. Jason Nemes agreed the recanvass is appropriate but said an election contest isn’t appropriate without proof of enough fraud to reverse the outcome.
“You have to show, in order to overturn an election, that you have the goods,” he said Thursday on WHAS-AM.
A leading GOP strategist in Kentucky said several prominent Kentucky Republicans don’t want Bevin to drag out the election outcome. Instead, they want to celebrate the party’s down-ballot wins and move on to 2020. The person spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.