Review shows Bevin holding 83-vote lead in Kentucky GOP primary

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said the majority of votes are in and she does not anticipate any substantial change after Thursday's recanvass of the Republican primary for governor.

For now, the recanvass puts to rest questions about whether Louisville businessman Matt Bevin, who had an 83-vote lead over James Comer, is the Republican nominee. But Comer, the state's agriculture commissioner, could tie this matter up in court if he requests an official recount.

Grimes said there were no major issues with the recanvass, and she does not anticipate any changes in the race between Bevin and Comer, who requested the recanvass. Grimes said she also did not anticipate any change in the state agriculture commissioner's race. In that race, Ryan Quarles picked up 1,400 more votes than Richard Heath.

"As the chief election officer, I could not be more pleased with the responsiveness of my office as well as the county board of election across the Commonwealth," Grimes said.

The secretary of state's office spent Thursday retrieving numbers from the county board of elections for all 120 counties. Grimes said they are still waiting on the final numbers from Madison County, but those votes would not change the outcome in either race.

In that recanvass, the board examined any absentee votes and made sure the correct numbers were sent to the secretary of state's office.

That's different from a recount, which would require a court order and lead to an examination of individual ballots. As of Thursday afternoon, Grimes said she has been in contact with all of the candidates involved, and she is not aware of anyone's intentions to contest the results.

Edwin King, Comer's campaign director, said Comer is "currently in Florida spending time with his family. He will issue a statement tomorrow afternoon about the next steps he will take in this race."

Bevin's campaign released the following statement on his behalf:

"It is an honor to be the Republican nominee for Governor. I have tremendous respect for Commissioner Comer and am glad that we went through the recanvass process so that the integrity of our election was validated. In the weeks and months ahead we will be bringing our Blueprint for a Better Kentucky to the voters and we look forward to discussing this detailed plan for job creation."

If Comer decides to contest the results, Friday is the deadline to request a manual review -- or recount -- of the ballots.
In order to make such a request, Grimes said, the request for a recount has to be filed Friday in Franklin Circuit Court.
Otherwise, the results will be certified at the June 8 meeting, she said.

When the recanvass started Thursday morning, Grimes said she hoped to declare a winner Thursday afternoon. When asked whether Bevin was going to be the Republican nominee, Grimes said that his 83-vote lead appears to be in tact.

The recanvass was historic, but not exactly unique.

Last week, Grimes said her office has been asked to conduct a recanvass on multiple occasions. However, it was one of the first times such an event transpired in the governor's race. The race between Bevin and Comer was one of the closest elections in state history.

The Associated Press did not call the race after the polls closed because they thought it was a "virtual tie" and too close to call.

The final tally had Bevin with about 33 percent of the votes or 70,479, Comer with 70,396, Hal Heiner with 57,948 and Will T. Scott with 15,364 votes. After Thursday's recanvass, Grimes said it looks like Heiner gained a few additional votes, but nothing signifcant.

According to the Fayette County Board of elections, the recanvassing process was not without complications.

Don Blevins, the board chairman, said the state system that issues electronic ballots did not make ballots available to 12 voters statewide. Blevins told WKYT that one of those voters was registered to vote in Fayette County.

The Board of Elections said they decided the voter would be given an extra 10 days to mail their ballot in. While they were waiting for it to arrive, Blevins said they held back five other absentee ballots so the late voter would have some privacy.

Elections officials tell WKYT that the ballot hasn't come in yet but they had to count the other absentee ballots on Thursday as part of the recanvass.

One ballot was thrown out because it was unsealed, according to the elections board.

Fayette County election officials say while the numbers haven't changed, they did notice an inconsistency in the numbers of ballots that voting machines counted.

"We have a discrepancy between the total number of votes cast between the system saying one thing and the tape saying another. I am fairly certain it is an interpretation problem and has nothing to do with the election results at all," said Blevins.

WKYT reporter Mark Barber contributed to this story.

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