Politics

As this year’s legislative session gets under way, one seat in Kentucky’s 100-member House of Representatives is still in question.

Former Republican Rep. DJ Johnson lost re-election to represent House District 13 by one vote in November to Jim Glenn, a Democrat who previously held the seat between 2007 and 2016.

But Johnson has requested a recount of the election, a process whereby the Republican-controlled House of Representatives will ultimately determine the outcome.

Glenn was sworn in and seated during the first day of the General Assembly on Tuesday, but leaders of the chamber began formal proceedings for an election contest by naming a nine-member board to oversee the process.

Glenn said he doesn’t think the legislature has any business weighing in on the election.

“I think the people of Daviess County elected who they wanted to be elected, whether it was one vote or 1,000,” Glenn Said.

“I’m here to serve the people of the commonwealth. I’m here to do the best job I can for the citizens, the students and the families in Owensboro, Daviess County.”

Johnson claims that local officials improperly threw out 17 absentee ballots and should have rejected six ballots because voters didn’t properly sign the local voter roster.

House Speaker David Osborne randomly selected nine members of the House to serve on the election contest board, which includes six Republicans and three Democrats.

Democrats protested the process, accusing Republicans of trying to steal the election.

Osborne said that he was just following the law.

“It doesn’t say we get to take this up if we want to, it doesn’t say we get to take this up if we think it’s a good idea,” he said.” What it says is that we shall take this matter up. And we really have no choice but to take this matter up.”

The last time an election contest took place in the legislature was 2004 in the Kentucky Senate.

A randomly-selected panel of lawmakers determined that an incoming Republican legislator, Dana Seum Stephenson, was not qualified to be seated because she registered her car and voted in Indiana.

The Senate then voted to override the panel and seat Stephenson instead of her Democratic opponent, Virginia Woodard, who had gotten fewer votes in the election.

The Kentucky Supreme Court ended up ruling against Stephenson and calling a special election.

When asked about whether elected officials should oversee election contests, Osborne said “I don’t know the answer to that but I think it’s worthy of conversation.”

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.