Clerks at work

Calloway County deputy clerks Terri Boggess, left, and Jessica Byars examine the tapes from a voting machine Tuesday evening at the Calloway County Courthouse. Clerks, as well as poll workers, were much busier than usual during Tuesday's statewide general election in Kentucky.

MURRAY — While the main attention of Friday’s meeting of the Calloway County Board of Elections was focused on examining election sheriffs’ reports from Tuesday’s general election in Kentucky, another subject managed to find its way into the conversation. 

That should not be surprising, being it is something nearly every Kentuckian is discussing in some form or fashion. This would be the impending recanvass from Tuesday’s race for governor between Republican Party incumbent Matt Bevin and Democratic Party Attorney General Andy Beshear, who emerged with about a 5,000-vote lead when all votes were counted Tuesday night. 

Friday, Calloway County Clerk Antonia Faulkner, whose position automatically makes her the chair of the board, announced the date and time for Calloway County’s part in this activity. It will be Thursday at 9 a.m. and, for now, is scheduled for the first-floor conference room of the Calloway County Courthouse in downtown Murray. 

“If we feel like enough people are calling and asking about this, we may have to move it across the street,” Faulkner said, referring to the Miller Courthouse Annex, which is a short walk from the courthouse. “This is open so the public can come watch.

“We sent out letters in the mail (Friday morning) to (Bevin) and his running mate (Ralph Alvarado) and to (Beshear) and his running mate (Jacqueline Coleman), so it’s one of those matters where they can come or a representative for them can come.”

A recanvass is significantly different from a recount. The recanvass process only counts the total votes from each precinct, while a recount, first, is ordered by a judge, and, second, involves examining every ballot cast in the election. Cost of a recount also falls entirely on the candidate seeking it. 

“In a recanvass, we take the tickets from each machine (an e-Slate,which is electronic, and an e-Scan, which is for paper ballots) at each precinct and we take those tickets, along with the printed recap sheet and the hand-written one and we make sure all of those numbers add up,” Faulkner said, noting that this is no different from how Calloway’s personnel handled the vote counting process Tuesday night.

Bill Cowan, who is the GOP’s representative on the board, said he is confident that nothing unusual will be discovered with the Calloway recanvass. He said he believes he has an idea of where the Bevin camp thinks votes may not have been handled properly.

“I know the concern from the Bevin camp is going to focus on Louisville, where the numbers were way out of proportion to everywhere else in the state,” Cowan said of not only the city itself but Jefferson County in general. That is where Beshear defeated Bevin by receiving 67 percent of the vote, 186,510 votes, to win that county by nearly 100,000 votes. 

Cowan indicated that a concern with the GOP could be with absentee ballots, which is something the nation has heard before. 

“It happened in Minnesota. All of a sudden a bunch of absentee ballots show up,” Cowan said, referring to a 2016 election in which a person used someone else’s name to complete witness verification forms for several absentee ballots. “All I’m saying is that if anyone is going to do anything, it’s going to be in Louisville. There are thousands and thousands of folks there and you’ve got a big discrepancy between Beshear and the Bevin. It begs itself to look at it.

“And it very well could be that nothing is found. They still need to look.”

Thursday’s recanvass will be the first in Calloway since the 2016 Democratic Party primary for president that resulted in Bernie Sanders’ victory in the county being upheld. Prior to that, there were two other recanvasses involving local races. 

One was in the 2014 Calloway County Magistrate District 2 general election race between Democrat Tim Todd, who had won the election by 41 votes over Republican Bill Duncan. Another was earlier that same year when Ken Claud’s 16-vote victory in the Democratic primary for jailer against Rodney Hill was upheld. 

As for the election sheriffs’ reports, other than some very minor issues, those revealed no problems Friday in Calloway. One thing that did emerge appears to be that the new electronic way of checking voters into precincts on election day has been met by strong approval from precinct workers. 

EPoll books began use in the county during the November 2018 general election on a pilot basis, but became a county-wide thing during this year’s May primary. 

Democratic Party board representative Melisa Stark reported the reaction of one poll worker she saw during Tuesday’s election. 

“She held up one of the computers and said, ‘I love them!’” Stark said, noting that the worker was a longtime veteran of election-day precinct duty. “She’s very knowledgable, so if she was saying that, you know she meant it.” 

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