Jefferson County Presiding Court Judge Scott Vowell on Tuesday ordered Jefferson County to retabulate the votes from the March 13 Republican presidential primary in precincts that are split between two congressional districts, a review that could change how the state GOP awards one of its delegates. Vowell also ordered the Alabama Republican Party to pay for the review if the state does not reimburse Jefferson County. The order came after a lawsuit was filed Friday by the Alabama Republican Party arguing that votes in 48 split precincts in Jefferson and six other counties failed to identify which congressional district the presidential vote came from. The issue is significant because some of the party’s presidential delegates are awarded based on how each candidate fared within the congressional districts. Alabama Republican Party Executive Director T.J. Maloney, testifying Tuesday, said 16 of the split precincts are in Jefferson County.
Based on a similar order from a Blount County judge Friday, Blount and Cherokee counties have completed their retabulations and Clarke County started its review Tuesday, Maloney said. The other counties with split districts are Tuscaloosa, Montgomery and Jackson, but some officials were unsure whether court orders from Jefferson and Blount counties applied to them.
“That question has not been fully answered,” said Tuscaloosa County Probate Judge W. Hardy McCollum. “We just want to make sure it’s done correctly.”
The ballot review is expected to officially determine whether Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich finished in second place in the 7th Congressional District, which includes parts of Jefferson County. The second-place finisher gets one delegate; third place gets nothing. Rick Santorum won the district and two of the delegates.