NORMAN — A Cleveland County judge said she will rule Tuesday on alleged voting irregularities in the state House District 45 race.
District Judge Tracy Schumacher gave attorneys for Democratic challenger Paula Roberts and incumbent Republican Aaron Stiles until 9 a.m. Tuesday to file final written arguments in the case. Schumacher said she will issue a ruling by 5 p.m.
Stiles is the unofficial winner of the contest by a 16-vote margin, but Roberts wants the results declared invalid and a new election called. She cites irregularities that include ballots that were declared invalid that should have been counted and other ballots that were counted that should have been declared invalid.
In a hearing Friday, eight voters refused to answer questions about ballots they cast on Nov. 6 after being told by the judge their testimony could be incriminating.
Greg Bledsoe, who represents Roberts, said the eight people were expected to testify that they had moved out of House District 45 before the election but had returned to their old precincts to vote in the race or had submitted absentee ballots based on their old addresses.
Schumacher said state law prohibits voters from casting ballots in precincts in which they no longer reside. She advised them to confer with attorneys before testifying and to consider invoking their Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate themselves.
Attorney Carol Dillingham, who represents the Cleveland County Election Board, said officials did not believe any of them knowingly broke the law when they voted and doubted any testimony would result in prosecution.
After conferring with attorneys, Jasmine Still agreed to testify anyway, telling the court she cast a provisional ballot in the race, although she had moved from Norman to Edmond about a month before Nov. 6.
Still said she was “under the impression” she could return to her old precinct to vote. However, she said, she had to cast a provisional ballot when she arrived at the poll because she forgot to bring a valid identification.
Four people — besides Still and the eight people who invoked the Fifth Amendment — were subpoenaed to testify but failed to appear in court Friday. Those four had been expected to say they had voted in the race although they no longer lived in the district, Bledsoe said.
Other irregularities cited by Bledsoe included female voters whose last names were different from their voter registration names because they had recently married.
Jennifer Lamb testified her last name had changed and that she was allowed to cast a provisional ballot after showing identifications for both her maiden name, which matched the voter registration book, and her married name.
Bledsoe said Lamb's case was one of several in which provisional ballots were ruled invalid that should have been counted.
Further irregularities occurred with a group of mail-in absentee ballots that required notarization, he said. Ten ballots were signed by notaries who had no bonds on file with the Oklahoma Secretary of State, as required by law, Bledsoe said.
Other mail-in absentee ballots had affidavits with dates that differed from the notarization dates, “suggesting the notaries were not present when they were signed,” Bledsoe said.
Roberts' attorney said he also could cite about 29 instances were voters were permitted to cast ballots without precinct workers checking for valid voter identifications.
Attorney Robert McCampbell, who represents Stiles, called Cleveland County Election Board Secretary Jim Williams to testify that voters who had moved but had not changed their registration could return to their old precincts to vote as long as they filed a change of registration card at the polling site.
McCampbell has argued that Stiles emerged the winner of the race when votes were tallied on election night and that he again emerged the winner when a recount was held.
Any irregularities or mistakes were minor and would not change the outcome of the election with any mathematical certainty, he said.
Both sides have indicated that no matter how Schumacher rules, the case most likely will be appealed to the state Supreme Court.