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Recounts, appeals to GOP possible in 3 legislative races

By MADDISON BOOTH, Alabama Daily News

AUBURN, Ala. – Candidates who want a recount in three close and controversial legislative races have until noon today to formally file such a request. After possible recounts, the Alabama Republican Party will ultimately decide who moves forward as its nominees.

But Secretary of State John Merrill confirmed to Alabama Daily News on Wednesday that a “primary do-over” on the June 21 runoff ballot is not an option.

House Districts 28 and 29 

In Etowah County, two Alabama House races were impacted last week when some voters were given incorrect ballots. The error was made after district lines were redrawn last year. The Etowah County Board of Registrars was alerted to the issue in April when it was spotted on an absentee ballot. Officials thought the issue had been corrected, but it was not.

Merrill on Wednesday said it was still unknown how many ballots were affected by that error. His office is working with the county to determine that, but it could take several more weeks.

In House District 28, certified results from the Secretary of State’s office show former legislator Mack Butler defeating incumbent Rep. Gil Isbell, R-Gadsden, by 219 votes. Next door in House District 29, Mark Gidley won with 4,014 votes against Jamie Grant’s 3,940.

A recount in districts 28 and 29 would not likely change anything because it would only include last week’s ballots, Merrill said.

Isbell and Grant have said they will contest their respective races with the party, in hopes that they will be placed on the June 21 run-off ballot for a do-over.

“I want the party to hold itself accountable and to correct itself,” Grant said. “Whether it was one person or 100 people, every vote should matter.”

Grant cited the issue as a “human error” rather than a redistricting error, saying that the Board of Registrars should have fixed it.

Isbell also argued that his own race should be placed on the run-off ballot.

“There’s no fraudulence here; it’s just a lot of mistakes,” Isbell said.

Merrill on Wednesday said a do-over isn’t an option.

Once a party opts into a primary process, it must abide by its rules, he said.

“There is no provision to have a revote,” Merrill said.

Former lawmaker Mack Butler opposed a do-over after his victory on Tuesday.

“We can’t put the genie back in the bottle,” Butler said.

Isbell said the Alabama Republican Party is planning to hear cases on election errors this Friday, but ALGOP Chairman John Wahl could not be reached to confirm.

Gidley did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Senate District 27

In east Alabama’s Senate District 27, which includes parts of Lee, Tallapoosa and Russell counties, incumbent Sen. Tom Whatley, R-Auburn, lost by 1 vote to challenger Jay Hovey. Hovey, an Auburn City Council member, carried Lee County, while Whatley won in Russell and Tallapoosa counties.

Like any other candidate, Whatley would have to pay for any recount, whether it be the entire district or specific precincts. Lee County Probate Judge Bill English told Alabama Daily News a recount there would cost about $4,000. Tallapoosa County Probate Judge Talmadge East said a recount there would be about $4,500.

Whatley did not return a request for comment on his plans.




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