83 votes. That’s all that separates Kentucky GOP gubernatorial hopefuls Matt Bevin and James Comer. What has already been an ugly campaign is about to become even uglier. Kentucky has three levels of post-election procedures: a recanvass, a recount, and an election contest. Comer, who is currently down in the vote count, has already indicated that he plans to invoke the first process and seek a recanvass; it is unclear if he will go further with a recount or election contest. Under Kentucky law, a candidate has a week from Election Day to file a request for recanvassing with the Secretary of State. Comer announced last night that he will file his request this morning. The recanvassing will occur on Thursday, May 28, during which county election boards will recheck each machine and report the figure back to the county clerk.
The law allows a representative from both the Comer and Bevin campaigns to be present as the recanvassing occurs. Essentially, the recanvassing process simply checks each machine to make sure that the numbers reported to the State Board of Elections were not misreported or incorrectly added. Ballots themselves are not recounted; instead, a recanvass is simply a way to double check that the machines tallied the votes correctly.
Comer will likely find the recanvassing process futile. Former Secretary of State Trey Grayson noted late Tuesday night that the recanvassing is unlikely to change the outcome. As a matter of recent history and anecdotal evidence, in the 2010 general election for U.S. Congress, then-challenger Republican Andy Barr gained only one additional vote after seeking a recanvass in an attempt to reverse his 649-vote deficit to incumbent Democratic Congressman Ben Chandler. Unless there was an anomaly with a machine, then, the Comer recanvass seems unlikely to change an eighty-three-vote difference.