The results of a recount that changed the outcome of an Oklahoma House race by one vote have been thrown into question after Tulsa County Election Board officials reported finding two more ballots for the losing candidate Wednesday night. Earlier in the day, county Election Board officials recounted ballots by hand that were cast in the House District 71 special election initially won April 3 by Democrat Dan Arthrell 1,418-1,415 over Republican Katie Henke. The recount determined that Henke received 1,415 votes during the election, while Arthrell collected 1,414 votes, Tulsa County Election Board Secretary Patty Bryant said. With four fewer votes, Arthrell ended up losing the race by one vote, and the recount result was certified by the board. “It was eating on us, and we were thinking `There’s got to be a reason for this,’ ” Bryant said. Two technicians who work for the board looked through 15 precinct ballot boxes and found two ballots in one of them, Bryant said. “We immediately contacted the state Election Board and Secretary Paul Ziriax and the assistant district attorney that helps the Election Board with our counsel,” Bryant said.
Bryant, the two candidates and their attorneys are scheduled to attend a court hearing Thursday when a judge will determine what happens next. “We’re horrified, but we want to be transparent. We want the voters not to be concerned because this is the very first time this has happened,” Bryant said. Henke had requested the manual recount in the election. She and Arthrell are vying to fill the seat vacated by Republican Rep. Dan Sullivan, who stepped down to become CEO of the Grand River Dam Authority.