Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel was certified Wednesday as the winner of last week's election after his opponent stopped a hand recount of ballots six hours into the first day.
A full recount of the ballots could have taken weeks, Oklahoma County Election Board Secretary Doug Sanderson predicted.
The recount began Wednesday after an “extremely conservative” supporter of Darrell Sorrels, the Republican challenger for sheriff, put up $25,800 to pay for it. Whetsel's campaign manager called the payment by Enterprise Investments Inc. an illegal campaign contribution to Sorrels.
Whetsel, a Democrat, will begin his fifth term in office Jan. 1.
After counting 14 of the county's 256 precincts, Sorrels had closed the almost 75,000-vote gap between himself and Whetsel by only one vote. The final election tally was 164,055 for Whetsel and 89,511 for Sorrels.
Sorrels called for a manual recount of all ballots cast in the Nov. 6 election because he wanted to “determine the integrity of the process,” his attorney, Stephen Jones, said.
Jones said Sorrels was concerned because the sheriff is responsible for ballot security. Jones also said Sorrels was concerned because he did not do as well as other Republicans in the election.
“I was satisfied as to the integrity of the process, as was Mr. Sorrels, so at that point there was no point to continue,” Jones said about stopping the recount. “I can't say that I was expecting a difference, but sometimes you have to go through the process to validate the results reached.”
Despite the outcome, Pat Hall, Whetsel's campaign manager, is objecting to the recount. Hall said the $25,800 deposit filed to trigger the recount was illegal.
The check was remitted to the election board Friday by Enterprise Investments Inc. Located in a nondescript building at 5235 N Lincoln in Oklahoma City, Enterprise Investments is a holding company for Old Surety Life Insurance.