NORMAN — Despite lost ballots and provisional ballots, incumbent Republican Aaron Stiles of Norman is the unofficial winner of the state House District 45 race by a margin of 18 votes.
Democrat Paula Roberts, also of Norman, has asked for a recount.
The candidates, their lawyers and Cleveland County Election Board officials will appear before Judge Tracy Schumacher at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Cleveland County Courthouse.
Additionally, Roberts’ attorney, Greg Bledsoe, said he has filed a petition that “numerous irregularities” had tainted the election and that either Roberts should be declared the winner or it should be determined there is a mathematical uncertainty as to the outcome.
The Cleveland County Election Board opened its meeting at 3 p.m. on Friday. Oklahoma election boards meet on the Friday after the election to certify the vote, which must be done by 5 p.m.
Cleveland County Election Board Secretary Jim Williams began with a request for an item under new business saying 60 mail-in absentee ballots had been discovered in a locked room yesterday.
“On election night we had trouble opening the ballot envelopes,” Williams said.
He explained that the absentee ballots were being sliced in half and the procedure of opening them with the machine was stopped and extra workers called in to open the envelopes by hand.
Sixty envelopes were “inadvertently” placed with empty envelopes where they remained in a locked room until discovered.
“It’s our believe that the integrity of the ballots has not been compromised,” Williams said. “Our office is committed to the election’s integrity and the believe that every vote counts.”
Williams said his office verified that the absentee ballots that had been counted were short 60 envelopes according the tally of absentee ballots being returned.
Election Board Chair Lisa Shrieves, a Republican, and board member Hale Spake II, a Democrat, assisted Williams in opening the ballots. Because of additional ballots in the city of Moore Special Election, there were actually more ballots than 60. They were run through the machine in three batches of 41 ballots, 27 ballots and 2 ballots.