A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Secretary Grimes receives recanvass request from Governor Bevin, will take place November 14

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Gov. Matt Bevin has formally filed a request to have a recanvass conducted of the results of Tuesday’s gubernatorial election.

Unofficial results from the Secretary of State and State Board of Elections showed Democrat Andy Beshear, Kentucky’s Attorney General, defeating Republican Bevin’s re-election bid by a margin of 5,189 out of 1.4 million votes cast, although the GOP candidates handily swept the rest of the constitutional officer races.

During a press conference at the Governor’s Mansion late Wednesday afternoon, Bevin said there were what he termed a number of irregularities in the voting, “The specifics of which we are in the process of getting affidavits and other information. It will help us to get a better understanding of what did or did not happen. Those will be forthcoming in the days ahead.”

He did offer some details of his allegations to reporters.

Gov. Matt Bevin is asking for a recanvass of Tuesday’s results. (Photo by Tom Latek, Gov. Matt Bevin is asking for a recanvass of Tuesday’s results. (Photo by Tom Latek, Kentucky Today)

“We know there have been thousands of absentee ballots that were illegally counted,” he said. “We know that there are reports of people having been incorrectly turned away from various voting booths around the state. Again, these are things that need to be corroborated. We know that in Jefferson County, there were a number of machines that did not work properly, so ballots were taken and put in open boxes and people were told they’d be scanned in later. They may have been, they may not have been. We truly don’t know.”

His bottom line: “We simply want to ensure there is integrity in the process. We owe this to the people of Kentucky, Bevin said. I’m confident that in the end the right results will be delivered, and I will be entirely comfortable with whichever way they go, if I am confident the process has been served.”

In the meantime, Bevin said Beshear is wise to do what he is doing. “He should be putting together a transition team and he should be having conversations with the expectation that if he is the person with the most votes at the end of this, that he should be ready to take the responsibility of being Governor.”

During a recanvass, each machine is checked by local election officials and the totals reported to the county clerks, who then report the totals to the State Board of Election. Members of both political parties are allowed to be present and watch the recanvass process.

The recanvass will begin across the state on Thursday, Nov. 14, starting at 9 a.m. local time.

There has never been a race in Kentucky where the winner has been overturned following a recanvass. In fact, most have resulted in an identical count, and in the others, only a handful of numbers have changed.

Four years ago, Bevin finished 83 votes ahead of James Comer in the Republican primary, and the recanvass requested by Comer, now a member of Congress, saw no change in the totals.

If Bevin is dissatisfied with the outcome, the next and only other avenue is an election contest, which would then be decided by the Republican-controlled House and Senate.

The last election contest in a gubernatorial race happened in 1899, when Republican William Taylor beat Democrat William Goebel by a narrow margin. Then, the General Assembly was held by Democrats and their election contest gave Goebel the win. While the results were still in doubt, Goebel was shot on the grounds of what is now the Old State Capitol on Jan. 30, 1900. The day after he was wounded, Goebel was declared the winner, but died on Feb. 3.

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