Bowden: Recount outcome same; Republican primary results say Bentley 2nd

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Covington County’s chief election official, Probate Judge Ben Bowden, said Tuesday he doubts the outcome of the Republican primary will be changed by a recount.

Speaking to the Andalusia Rotary Club Tuesday, Bowden said every machine invented has some margin of error, but said he’ll be “shocked” if the outcome changes.

When Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman certified final election totals from last Tuesday’s voting, including provisional votes, Tuscaloosa’s Robert Bentley had a 167-vote edge over Greenville’s Tim James for second place in the Republican gubernatorial primary behind Bradley Byrne.

Provisional votes, Bowden explained, are those cast by persons whose names don’t appear on the voter’s list when they visit the polls. No one is turned away, Bowden said, but those who believe their name should be on the list at a specific polling place must provide information about their identity and address. Their ballots are placed inside a sealed envelope. If the Board of Registrars rules that the individual should have been able to cast a ballot at the polling place, the ballot is counted.

Of the nine provisional ballots cast last week, Bowden said, the Board of Registrars determined three should be counted. Those three votes added two to Byrne’s tally and one to James’.

State election officials verified and counted those all provisional ballots Tuesday, and the Alabama Republican Party announced these vote totals: Byrne 137,448 or 27.89 percent; Bentley 123,960 or 25.15 percent; and James 123,793 or 25.12 percent. Four other candidates split the remaining votes.

Under Alabama law, James must request recounts in each county and pay the cost. James said he would start with the counties with the most Republican votes and then decide whether to go statewide.

Officials in each county will determine the cost. James estimated it could be as much as $200,000, but no one knows for sure because it has never been done.

Bowden said if Covington County is among the counties in which James requests a recount, the county will have to have voting machines reprogrammed and feed each of the paper ballots into the machine to be counted again.