ALGOP, ALEA now at odds over provisional ballot in ‘tied’ Senate District 27 race

Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 7:59 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 27, 2022 at 6:17 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Republican Party and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency are now at odds over a provisional ballot that could decide who will win the GOP nomination for the Senate District 27 primary race.

When the votes were tallied following the May 24 GOP primary race, Auburn City Councilman Jay Hovey had a one-vote lead over incumbent state Sen. Tom Whatley. The total stood at 8,373 to 8,372. Alabama has an automated recount law if the vote is within, plus or minus, half of one percent, but this doesn’t apply to a primary election like this race.

Whatley initially contested the race results but later withdrew his application for a recount and the ALGOP scheduled an election contest hearing, which was held Saturday. During that meeting, the ALGOP said its candidate committee determined that Hovey and Whatley were in a tie after determining an uncounted provisional ballot, cast in Whatley’s favor, “was improperly excluded from the vote totals.”

ALGOP officials are moving ahead with certifying the race, working with both candidates to determine a date and location for a tie-breaker, as outlined in Alabama Code 17-12-23. The exact manner of how the tie will be broken was not indicated.

However, Monday morning, ALEA issued a statement regarding its review of an allegation that a person claimed to have been wrongly excluded from the polls because of a driver license error, which affected the race’s outcome.

ALEA said its Driver License Division conducted a review of the matter and found that the person in question has a driver’s license issued by the State of Georgia despite having visited the ALEA Driver License Office in Opelika to get one issued by the State of Alabama.

ALEA noted that that the person did not complete an issuance transaction, meaning they were never issued an Alabama driver license.

“The individual still holds a current Georgia Driver License,” ALEA stated. “Voter registration information from ALEA’s Driver License Division is only sent after the credential is issued and the customer signs the required voter declaration, which did not occur in this specific incident.”

ALEA said voter registration information is filed nightly to the Alabama secretary of state’s office to ensure each voter registration is up to date.

WSFA 12 News has reached out to the ALGOP to determine what, if any, changes will be made to its decision to declare the race a tie. A request for comment has also been made to the Alabama secretary of state’s office.

The eventual winner will challenge Democrat Sherri Reese in the November general election. District 27 includes parts of Lee, Russell and Tallapoosa counties.

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