Attorney General: Recount won’t change July 13 runoff

Published 5:32 pm Friday, June 11, 2010

A scheduled recount of Republican ballots cast for governor in Alabama may happen, and it may not following the release of a contentious Attorney General’s opinion on Friday afternoon.

Attorney General Troy King issued an opinion stating that it was up to the Alabama Republican Party to decide if there needed to be a recount, but the results would not change which candidates were involved in a July 13 run-off: Bradley Byrne and Dr. Robert Bentley.

Greenville businessman Tim James trails Bentley by 167 votes and called the attorney general’s opinion “absurd” during a press conference on Friday.

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“Troy King ought to be ashamed of himself,” James told The Birmingham News. “Under the best scenario he is a very, very bad lawyer.”

James said Republican party officials were now “not inclined” to pursue a recount because of the AG opinion.

GOP chair Mike Hubbard said that was a decision which would be made on Monday.

King’s opinion was requested by Secretary of State Beth Chapman to help state election officials comply with the law governing the first ever recount of a Republican gubernatorial election. In his opinion, King said, “If the recount changes the result, that change is not reliable enough to change the certificate. Instead, it provides a basis for a contest of the election.”

James could contest the election, but only after the run-off.

James had asked for a recount in all 67 Alabama counties. James will pay for the recount, which his campaign expects will cost an estimated $200,000.

Butler County Probate Judge Steve Norman said the recount – if it goes forward – is scheduled for Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Norman said the recount in Butler County would cost approximately $2,000.

The procedure will be the same as for any election, said Norman. Five volunteers will be on-site to assist with the recount, he said, and sheriff’s deputies will deliver the boxes from each of the county’s 28 precincts to the courthouse annex. Ballots cast in the Democratic primary will not be recounted, he said, and only votes cast in the Republican gubernatorial race will be tallied.

Voters in Butler County cast 1,811 ballots in the Republican primary on June 1.

“One, we’ll be looking to see if there’s missing ballots because ballots can go missing,” said Norman. “Hopefully none of ours have. Also, if a person voted Republican and in several other contests and for whatever reason it didn’t count at the polls…maybe they didn’t draw the line in all the way for the candidate…it will be rejected as an undervote.”

James initially asked for a 40-county recount, but expanded that to include all of the state.

“We have always wanted to include all 67 counties so that the people of Alabama could rest assured that this recount will be as accurate and thorough as possible,” James said earlier this week.

Bentley was leading James by 208 votes with all boxes reported in following the primary. After the provisional ballots were counted Tuesday, Bentley’s lead was cut to 167 votes.

“Let me be very clear: I do not want to win this race unless I have won this race,” said James then. “It is not our objective to invent votes but to make sure there is an accurate count of votes cast.”

Bentley said his intentions were to move forward with his campaign.

“Now that every vote has been counted, I am honored to declare victory and move forward with the run-off campaign,” Bentley said. “I congratulate Tim James for waging a hard fought campaign, but am ready to debate the key challenges facing Alabama with my run-off opponent. I look forward to reaching out to the supporters of my primary opponents, earning each of their votes, and communicating my vision of where I want to lead this great state of ours.”