The Oklahoma Election Board on Wednesday certified the results of last week’s election despite a request by Democrats for a special election in the 2nd Congressional District where Democratic nominee Earl Everett died two days before the vote. After a closed-door session with attorneys from Republican Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office, the three-member board returned to open session and certified the results based on the attorneys’ recommendation. Oklahoma Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax says state law in this case is pre-empted by federal law.
“A state law that effectively cancels or nullifies that election to hold a later special election would directly conflict with the congressional command to elect a representative on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November,” Ziriax told the board.
Oklahoma Democratic Party officials have argued that state law calls for a special election in the case of a candidate’s death before the election, and party Chairman Wallace Collins said they likely will file a lawsuit. “We don’t think this is being handled correctly,” Collins said after the meeting. “I think they’ve been given bad advice and we intend to pursue our options.”