OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) — A recount in a Kentucky state House race originally won by a Democrat by a single vote has ended in a tie after the local board of elections decided to open and count five absentee ballots that had previously been rejected. It’s unclear what comes next.
Democrat Jim Glenn defeated former Republican state Rep. DJ Johnson on Election Day by a one-vote margin. Kentucky does not have automatic recounts, and the Kentucky State Board of Elections certified Glenn as the winner. He was sworn in on Jan. 5 and has an office and been assigned to committees.
But the Republican-controlled state legislature ordered a recount at Johnson’s request, relying on a state law that allows candidates in legislative races to contest election results.
Saturday, the Daviess County Clerk’s Office recounted more than 12,000 ballots by hand. Glenn emerged from that process ahead by three votes. But after a personal appeal from Johnson, the Daviess County Board of Elections — which consists of two Republicans and two Democrats — voted to give Johnson one of those votes back, putting him down by two.
The board then reviewed 17 absentee ballots that they had unanimously rejected on Election Day. This time, the board decided five of those ballots were legal, and opened them. Johnson received three of them, Glenn received one and one ballot was blank. That made the final results a tie, with each candidate receiving 6,323 votes.
The next step is for the Daviess County Clerk’s Office to send a report to the Election Contest Board, a legislative panel of six Republicans and three Democrats which must decide what to do next and eventually give a report to the House of Representatives, which has the ultimate say in the matter. A state law indicates the board must choose the winner by drawing lots.
But Anna Whites, Glenn’s attorney, noted Glenn has already been sworn in and seated as a state legislator, and the only way he can be removed is impeachment. She said Glenn would file a lawsuit over any attempt to remove him from office.
Glenn did not attend Saturday’s recount. Reached by phone, he indicated he did not accept the results as legitimate.
“I won. I’ll say it again,” he said. “Normally, you don’t count invalid ballots.”