NORMAN — Paula Roberts alleges irregularities in Nov. 6 election
The hearing of a petition by Democratic candidate Paula Roberts alleging irregularities in the Nov. 6 election for State House District 45 continues today in Cleveland County District Court.
Judge Tracy Schumacher will hear arguments by Greg Bledsoe, attorney for Roberts, and by Robert McCambell, the attorney representing Rep. Aaron Stiles, the Republican incumbent and unofficial winner of the election.
The hearing was continued from Nov. 20. That day, Bledsoe focused his arguments on seven provisional ballots that were not counted because those seven people gave different addresses than their registered voting addresses. Bledsoe said that while the addresses did not match the address of registration, their addresses were still within House District 45 and the votes should have been allowed.
This week, Bledsoe amended Roberts’ petition for the second time, much to the consternation of the Stiles camp.
McCambell, in a supplemental brief filed Tuesday, reminded the court that “legislative activity is currently under way” and that post-election allegations of irregularity should be dealt with in an expedited manner.
“Where there is an irregularity, a petitioner has the right to attack it. In this case, however, the petitioner wants to use this court’s time and subpoena power to start a post-election investigation to see if an irregularity can be found and to deny the rights of the voters to be represented,” according to McCambell’s supplemental brief.
“They don’t even know what the discrepancies are,” Stiles said, “because there aren’t any discrepancies. They are mounting a fishing expedition. They’re trying to interview witnesses on the witness stand. They lost the election. They lost the recount that night, and they lost the official recount. I don’t understand why they’re trying to win the election through litigation. They’re really inconveniencing a lot of people and a lot of voters just to get their way.”
Amanda Roberts, campaign manager and daughter of Paula Roberts, said they are hoping the hearing will be resolved today.
Roberts is asking for a new election. To argue that case, Bledsoe is primarily attacking voter ID law and state legislative action that grants special provisions to military and overseas voters.
According to Cleveland County Election Board Secretary Jim Williams, if the judge rules that a new election is in order, the cost to taxpayers would run around $12,500.
Such a ruling likely would set the stage for further litigation to answer the question of whether Oklahoma election laws are constitutional.
“We must also recognize that this case is almost certainly headed for the Supreme Court,” McCampbell states in the supplemental brief.
Bledsoe also is claiming a discrepancy between the machine count and the manual recount, but the recount resulted in only a two-vote difference. Following the election, Stiles led by 18 votes. Following the recount, Stiles led by 16 votes.
Ballots that were contested by the attorneys for the candidates would increase that gap back to the original 18 vote lead by Stiles.
Bledsoe is further alleging that 17 persons who had “changed their domicile from within the district to outside the district” had “improperly voted in the election.” But whether those voters cast votes for either Stiles or Roberts is unknown.
As long as voters have appropriate ID, the residence listed under voter registration is not questioned. The only time address is questioned is if a voter must vote by provisional ballot.
In addition, Bledsoe’s latest amended petition states that 29 persons were “permitted to vote, even though the precinct judge did not verify the voter’s identification.”