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Hovey asks for rehearing on District 27 tie decision, Whatley opposes

Hovey cites new information contained in an ALEA press release in his request for the rehearing.

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Jay Hovey has filed a motion with the Alabama Republican Party for a rehearing of its decision to declare his District 27 victory over incumbent Tom Whatley a tie. 

An ALGOP committee made the decision after hearing evidence that a Tallapoosa voter, Patsy Kenney, who attempted to cast a ballot for Whatley was declared ineligible because she didn’t complete the registration process. However, because she believed she had registered when she obtained a drivers license, ALGOP officials ruled the vote should count. 

Shortly after that decision, however, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency issued a statement declaring that many of the facts of the case were inaccurate. ALEA said Kenney had never completed the process of obtaining an Alabama drivers license, nor had she signed any documentation required to begin the process of voter registration. 

Secretary of State John Merrill has stated repeatedly that under Alabama voter registration laws, the vote should not be counted, and would not be counted by his office. On Wednesday, in a tweet, Merrill went a step further and said that the “certified total” for the District 27 race, as far his office is concerned, was Hovey winning by a single vote. That outcome, Merrill said, was certified by the canvassing board and nothing has changed since. 

Given that new information, particularly the ALEA statements that shed new light on the process, Hovey asked for ALGOP to reconsider its earlier decision. 

“Contestee Jay Hovey submits that his motion for re-hearing is due to be GRANTED and that, on the basis of new evidence, the decision of the Alabama Republican Party State Executive Committee to count the vote of Patsy Kenneyis due to be reversed,” Hovey’s filing reads, “resulting in a declaration that Contestee Jay Hovey won the primary election by at least one vote and is, therefore, the nominee of the Alabama Republican Party for Senate District 27 for the general election scheduled for November 8, 2022.”

Whatley, obviously, disagrees. 

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In an answer to Hovey’s request for a rehearing, attorneys for Whatley write that the facts disclosed by the ALEA press release are not different from the facts that were presented to the Alabama Republican Party Steering Committee – that Kenney went to get a drivers license but could not obtain one because ALEA required information from her eye doctor; she indicated that she would like to register to vote and provided information to the ALEA officer. 

“The law on this point is clear, Mrs. Kenney’s ballot was wrongly rejected; her vote should have counted,” Whatley’s opposition filing reads. “Kenney has a clear legal right to have her provisional ballot, and the documentation related to it, delivered to and considered by the State Executive Committee, so that her vote can be counted….”

It’s unclear when the party might rule on Hovey’s request. A press statement from Whatley earlier in the day on Wednesday indicated that the coin flip to break the tie in the race would be held on Thursday.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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