The Alabama Republican Party will hear four election challenges filed in the wake of the May primaries.
The contested races include two House districts, 28 and 29, in Etowah County where an error led to numerous voters receiving ballots with the wrong House district races. Incumbent Sen. Tom Whatley has also challenged his one-vote loss to Jay Hovey in the Senate District 27 race. The final challenge is in House District 2, which is headed to a runoff between Limestone County Commissioner Jason Spencer Black and former Limestone Commissioner Ben Harrison. Kimberly Butler trailed by only 14 votes in that race, but Butler told the Montgomery Advertiser that she did not file the contest.
Multiple candidates said they expect the hearing to take place on June 25. The losing candidates in Etowah County want to redo the election.
“How do you certify an election when there are known discrepancies?” asked Jamie Grant, who was defeated by Mark Gidley by 82 votes according to the certified results. “How do you certify something that’s not accurate?”
Grant said the party has a chance to make things right through the hearing process.
“I hope the party sees our side and knows that mistakes are made,” Grant said. “We have a chance to correct them. Let’s stand up and be the party of integrity. We have a chance to fix it, why not just fix it? It’s simple, if we see something wrong, we fix it.”
Although the hearing is set for June 25, Grant said he wanted the party to add the race to the runoff ballot to avoid the cost of holding a new election.
Secretary of State John Merrill has said that there will not be a new election because it is a primary race and parties are not required to have an election, they are only required to submit their nominees for the general election ballot. Grant sees it differently.
“If that’s the case, we should never have an election, if the votes don’t actually count,” Grant said.
In District 28, certified results have Mack Butler defeating incumbent Rep. Gil Isbell by 202 votes.
Isbell said his team is focusing on gathering information to present to the committee.
“We will have one hour to present our information,” Isbell said. “From there we shall see where it goes. Time is of the essence; we have to have a candidate in place 74 days before August 15. If they were going to do reelection, that puts pressure on getting everything together within a short period of time.”
Isbell said a new election is the desired outcome for his team.
Whatley did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
Whatley and Hovey were initially separated by four votes, before the counting of provisional ballots closed the gap to one vote. Whatley spent approximately $1.2 million in campaigning for the seat compared to just $95,000 spent by Hovey. The district includes Lee, Russell and Tallapoosa counties.
Charles Whatley, Tom Whatley’s father, filed the challenge.
“I contest the nomination of Mr. Hovey based upon the casting of illegal votes in his favor and the rejection of legal votes in favor of Tom Whatley,” he wrote in a letter to the party. “The number of which would be sufficient to rightfully change the vote totals in favor of naming Tom Whatley as the nominee for the party.”