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November 15, 2012

Recount expected today

NORMAN — Judge will rule on request in State House District 45 race

Judge Tracy Schumacher is expected to rule today on whether a request for a ballot recount will be honored in the State House District 45 race. The hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. at the Cleveland County Courthouse.

Paula Roberts, Democratic candidate House District 45, requested the recount after several grueling hours at the Cleveland County Election Board last Friday while election officials counted provisional ballots and opened and counted 60 mail-in absentee ballots that had been misplaced and gone uncounted in the Nov. 6 general election.

Despite the lost and provisional ballots, incumbent Republican Aaron Stiles, of Norman, remained the unofficial winner of the District 45 race by a margin of 18 votes.

Roberts’ attorney, Greg Bledsoe, also filed a petition alleging 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. Friday. 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 following the election.

“On election night, we had trouble opening the ballot envelopes,” Williams said.

He explained that the absentee ballots were being sliced in half and extra workers were 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 two days later

“It’s our belief that the integrity of the ballots has not been compromised,” Williams said.

Election Board Chair Lisa Shrieves, a Republican, and board member Hal Spake II, a Democrat, assisted Williams in opening the ballots. Only three votes affected the District 45 race. Stiles gained two votes and Roberts gained one vote, increasing Stiles’ lead to 19 votes.

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