NORMAN — A Cleveland County court hearing on alleged irregularities in the state House District 45 race got under way Tuesday, despite the absence of Democratic challenger Paula Roberts, who was ill.
District Judge Tracy Schumacher said Roberts could be provided a transcript of the proceedings, which lasted about three hours before the judge continued it until 10:30 a.m. Nov. 30.
Roberts is alleging voting irregularities in the race with incumbent Republican Aaron Stiles, who has been declared the winner by a 16-vote margin.
Roberts' attorneys want the results set aside and a new election called because they contend too many provisional ballots that should have been counted were ruled invalid. They also contend some ineligible voters were allowed to cast ballots in the contest.
Attorney Greg Bledsoe, who represents Roberts, said he had a list of 33 voters whose provisional ballots were not counted, although they were registered voters in the district.
At the hearing, Bledsoe asked Annette Pretty, assistant secretary of the Cleveland County Election Board, to go through the list one by one and specify why each ballot was rejected.
Pretty made it through seven ballots before time ran out and Schumacher recessed the hearing.
Of the seven, six ballots were ruled invalid because the voters were registered at a different address than the address they listed in affidavits accompanying their provisional ballots, Pretty said.
One provisional ballot was discounted because a voter's last name did not match the last name listed in the state database for registered voters, she said.
Bledsoe contends poll workers who filled out affidavits for those voters failed to ask the right questions to explain the discrepancies.
If the voters had been told what information they needed to provide or if election officials had researched the voter information more thoroughly, the ballots could have been validated and counted, he said.
Stiles' attorney, Robert McCampbell, accused Bledsoe of dealing in “hypotheticals, instead of facts.”
Jamie Jennings testified that she and her husband voted by absentee ballot in the House District 45 race but that she learned through a conversation with her boss a few days later that they must have been sent the wrong ballots.
Jennings' boss pointed out to her that she and her husband actually live in House District 44, Jennings said.