By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — A petition by Paula Roberts alleging irregularities in the House District 45 race was denied by District Judge Tracy Schumacher on Tuesday.
Roberts, who lost to Republican incumbent Aaron Stiles in the Nov. 6 election was granted a recount. The results of that hand recount narrowed the margin of Stiles’ victory from 18 votes to 16 votes. Roberts, represented by her husband, attorney Barry Roberts and attorney Greg Bledsoe of Tulsa, also filed the petition alleging that election irregularities had created a mathematical uncertainty. Roberts asked to be declared the winner or to have the election thrown out and a new election orders.
Schumacher ruled that the burden or proof required in the case had not been met.
“I am disappointed with the Judge’s ruling. I believe there were enough irregularities to warrant a new election,” said Roberts. “We have had elections in Cleveland County thrown out for a lot less, but we respect her ruling.”
Rep. Stiles was sworn into office following the decision. He said he is ready to get to work for the district.
“We’re moving on and I’m working on bills tonight,” Stiles said. “I’ve got a lot of great ideas.”
Bledsoe filed three petition amendments in the case. One of the arguments for irregularities focused on recently passed laws designed to make it easier for military and overseas voters. Other items focused on the new voter ID law.
None of the premises were strong enough to show cause for a new election, according to the judge’s ruling.
“The petitioner (Roberts) has not overcome the presumption of regularity for elections,” Schumacher wrote in the decision she issued on Tuesday. “The problems that occurred likely occur in every election. Steps should be taken to minimize those specific problems from occurring in future elections. Every vote should count. In the instant case, the votes that were not counted were excluded based upon existing, current statutory and administrative law. Some of the votes that were included, perhaps should not have been, but they were included based upon existing, current statutory and administrative law.”
Assistant District Attorney Carol Dillingham represented the Cleveland County Election Board and County Election Board Secretary Jim Williams throughout the recount and petition hearing.
“On behalf of the Election Board, I think this shows how well Ms. Roberts trained her former employees and that they did the best they could to apply existing law and policy,” Dillingham said. “Mr. Williams continues to do an excellent job of ensuring that everyone follows existing law and policy.”
Roberts thanked those who supported her, but did not fully close the door after the petition’s ruling.
“I want to thank the voters and my supporters for standing with me during this ordeal,” said Roberts. “This is not the outcome we had hoped for, but it is the outcome we have. I am not sure what we will do next. No decision has been made at this time. The attorneys are still studying the ruling.
“We ran a good campaign, I am very proud of my advisors, and my campaign manager, Amanda. It’s a tough time to be a democrat in Oklahoma.”
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