Two voters in the disputed House District 71 election appear to have had their preferences counted twice because of human errors at separate precincts, state and local election officials say. Meanwhile, two other ballots that apparently were counted by election machines — but somehow were never transferred to the Tulsa County Election Board for safekeeping — are part of a growing legal controversy that could decide the ultimate winner in the April 3 contest between Republican Katie Henke and Democrat Dan Arthrell. On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court stopped any further action on the election by the Tulsa County Election Board, the State Election Board or Tulsa County District Court. The high court scheduled the dispute for oral arguments before a referee April 25.
On election night, Arthrell won by three votes, but Henke asked for a recount. When sealed boxes of ballots from the vote were opened last week for the recount, election officials found four fewer ballots than the machines reported. The recount resulted in a one-vote margin for Henke, who was certified the winner by the county Election Board. But subsequently county officials found two ballots for Arthrell in election equipment, enough to swing the margin back to him.
No winner has yet been certified by the State Election Board. It appears that human error by election volunteers resulted in single votes in two precincts accidentally being counted twice, State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax confirmed Tuesday.