The Oklahoma Supreme Court has invalidated the April 3 House District 71 special election. The 8-0 court ruling means no one won the contested election between Democrat Dan Arthrell and Republican Katie Henke, and the district will go unrepresented in the state House of Representativeness until next year. “It is impossible to determine with mathematical certainty which candidate is entitled to a certificate of election,” the ruling by Chief Justice Steve Taylor says. “Therefore, the certificate of election issued by the Tulsa County Election Board is invalidated and the election is void.”
On election night, Arthrell won by three votes, but a subsequent recount requested by Henke found four fewer ballots than were counted by election machines and left Henke ahead by one vote. A few hours after Henke was certified the winner by the Tulsa County Election Board, election officials found two stray ballots from the election still inside election equipment. The ballots were for Arthrell, enough to put the majority back in his favor. The problem went to the Supreme Court with both sides asking to be declared the winner.
State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said his interpretation of the court order is that no one won the special election. With no time to hold another special election to fill the seat, it will remain vacant until next year. Arthrell and Henke have registered to run again for the seat in the Nov. 6 general election.