Two Alabama Counties Will Recount Votes In Gov's Race

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:29pm EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Even though Republican Bob Riley has claimed victory over incumbent Democratic Governor Don Siegelman in the governor's race, two Alabama counties officially announced Wednesday they will be recounting votes. Riley has already claimed victory by over 3,000 votes.

Tuscaloosa County Probate Judge Hardy McCollum said his county would unseal and recount its ballots after a request made last Friday from a Siegelman supporter. Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor last week said it would be a crime to unseal the ballots based solely on a recount request.

Siegelman's lawyers have argued that a recount is the only way to insure that the vote count was accurate.

"I'm not nervous at all," McCollum told the Tuscaloosa News. "I've been doing this for 26 years, and I think I understand the election laws pretty well. The election laws provide for recounts."

McCollum did not say when the recount would start.

Russell County officials said they would begin recounting votes there Thursday.

Siegelman told Birmingham's WVTM-TV that he still wants a recount of all 1.3 million votes cast statewide, claiming there are more votes for him to be counted.

"Right now, with this cloud that started in Baldwin County with nearly 6,000 votes lost there, didn't affect anybody but me. Then we found votes in Madison County. Some 1,300 votes appeared through another computer glitch up there," Siegelman said.

The governor claims computer glitches occurred in 63 machines on Election Night due to severe weather in the state.

Siegelman lost the Nov. 5 election to Riley by 3,117 votes, according to official returns from all 67 counties. The governor said the margin, 0.23 percent, was too close for a winner to be determined. His supporters have asked for recounts in every county. But none has started since Pryor's opinion, issued Friday.

Riley told supporters Tuesday that the race is over and he is Alabama's next governor.

Alabama's 1983 Election Reform Act is the basis for administrative rules governing recounts. But, according to Pryor's office, a 1953 state law says in order for sealed ballots to be counted, a court-order must be obtained, there must be evidence that legal votes were not counted in a certain county and that an officially certified election contest took place, or the recount must be part of a grand jury investigation.

Wire service and several Alabama newspaper reports said the Siegelman campaign would pay for any recounts unless the results changed the outcome of the election.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Republican Secretary of State candidate Dave Thomas wanted a statewide recount as well, because he trailed Democrat Nancy Worley by 1,994 votes, narrower than that of the governor's race.

But, Thomas, in an interview with CNSNews.com, denied the A.P. report.

"I am not asking for a recount, have not asked for a recount, not at all," said Thomas.

"The A.P. has misreported [the story], I am not calling for a recount, I have not joined that fracas," he said.

"What I told Associated Press was that I was not in a position to call for a recount. I don't have the resources. However, if Don Siegelman goes to federal court in order to get a recount, then I will certainly petition the court to intervene and be a part of that recount," he said.

Thomas added that if Siegelman contests the election before the Alabama state legislature, then he wants to be there as well.

"Unlike Don Siegelman, I don't have the resources to call for a recount in each county. I could not and would not do that. But if a recount for the governor's (race) is conducted either in court or in the legislature, yeah, I want to be included. I don't think they should handpick or cherry pick what races they recount," said Thomas.

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