Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

April 16, 2013

Recount stands: No new vote in school race

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — A recount hasn’t changed the results from a school board race in Wynnewood won earlier this month by a single vote.

District Judge Greg Dixon agreed on Monday there were discrepancies but none severe enough to impact challenger Donnie Rollings’ win over incumbent Terry Brown by a 277-276 vote back on April 2.

With that conclusion Dixon said there will not be a new election in the race as Rollings is declared the official winner of the school board seat previously held by Brown in Wynnewood.

This second win for Rollings came after Brown asked for a recount and formally challenged the election results because of possible irregularities in the election itself.

Brown’s challenge was based on some questions related to the early in-person absentee voting totals during the election.

In those results there were two more ballots than voter signatures for one of four precincts in the early voting, while there were two more signatures than ballots in a second precinct.

Gayla Dean, chief clerk in the Garvin County Election Board, testified there was no discrepancy in the number of ballots and number of voters signing the registries at any of the precincts on election day.

Dean believes the only problem came when two in-person absentee voters were mistakenly given ballots with the wrong precinct number for them. She stressed that doesn’t impact the election results.

“She gave two people the wrong ballot for their precinct,” Dean said, referring to an election official.

“It was just the wrong precinct,” she said. “That can only happen during early voting and not at a precinct.

“Both were still lawfully voted. There were no illegal ballots cast. All ballots were counted properly.”

Brown’s attorney Micah Ayache argued Dean’s conclusion with the two ballots was only a guess and a new election should be held.

“We’ve got two missing votes,” Ayache said.

“We cannot establish with mathematical certainty where those two votes came from.”

Assistant District Attorney Carol Dillingham, while representing the Election Board, said all the ballots added together shows the vote was good.

“We have crystal clarity here,” Dillingham said. “There are not a magic two votes missing.

“I freely admit there were irregularities but that does not destroy mathematical certainty of who won this election,” she said.

“The number of lawfully issued ballots equals the number of lawfully voted ballots.”

Earlier during the hearing in a Pauls Valley courtroom a team of four precinct workers went one ballot at a time as they counted and tabulated votes submitted during the early April election that resulted in Rollings’ single vote victory.

Election Board Secretary Doylene Cunningham said the vote total was the same as before.

“It didn’t effect the election,” Cunningham said about the recount.

“We’ve retabulated the recount, and the outcome was the same,” she said. “It’s certified that Mr. Rollings won by one vote.”