Elections workers in Jefferson County will tally votes again in two primary elections held last week: the Democratic District 5 Metro Council race and the Republican primary for Kentucky’s 3rd U.S. House District.
State law allows a candidate to request what’s called a recanvass if the top two candidates are separated by less than 1% of the vote. In the District 5 race, incumbent Council Member Donna Purvis beat out primary opponent Ray “Sir Friendly” Barker by 35 votes. Republican Stuart Ray won the primary for the House seat being vacated by Rep. John Yarmuth by just 58 votes.
Erran Huber, the spokesperson for the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office, said conducting a recanvass is a standard part of ensuring election integrity. He said the process for a recanvass is not the same as a recount.
“We’re not hand-tallying [ballots], we’re not checking people’s bubbles,” Huber said. “We’re just basically taking the totals that we had gotten on Election Day, and running everything through again just to make sure everything lines up with the original totals.”
In Jefferson County, paper ballots are scanned into electronic counting machines that aren’t connected to the internet. Those produce vote totals by precinct that are then added together to produce the final results.
Barker, a retired Louisville police officer and Chickasaw resident, told WFPL News he requested the District 5 recanvass.
Huber said the County Clerk’s Office is not aware of any discrepancies in the tallying of votes from last week’s primary elections. Whatever the outcome of Thursday’s recanvass, the result will be sent to the state as the office results.
University of Kentucky election law professor Josh Douglas wrote in 2015 that this process has never changed the outcome of an election in Kentucky.
“This is because both the election night count and the recanvass are the same computer-run process, just done over again,” he said. “Unless there is a major computer glitch, therefore, the vote totals are likely to be about the same.”
Thursday’s recanvass will take place at the Jefferson County Election Center at 1000 E. Liberty Street.