AG: Byrne and Bentley on the ballot

Published 3:09 pm Friday, June 11, 2010

A recount planned in the GOP gubernatorial primary will not affect the names on the runoff ballot on July 13, Attorney General Troy King ruled Friday.

In an opinion issued for Secretary of State Beth Chapman, King noted that a contest of a primary election cannot be made until a nominee is named, and that no nominee can be named until a runoff is held. If a contest determines a different nominee should have been on the ballot, King said, a second runoff will be held.

Bradley Byrne and Robert Bentley were the top two vote-getters in the Republican primary, with Bentley just edging out Tim James by 167 votes. James is seeking a recount in all 67 counties.

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“While a primary election is a political party function, state law must still be followed to ensure the primary is fair, honest, and accurate,” King said. “While a primary is a party function, it is not the party that matters most. The primary is, more importantly, a receptacle of votes that must be counted accurately.”

The attorney general’s opinion also states:

• A recount of the primary election may be requested by a candidate under §17-16-21.

• Because primaries are political party functions, when there is no state law governing a part of the process, the party may decide what action to take. No state law governs when the recount should occur. The party may therefore make that decision.

• The recount should consist of re-feeding the ballots through the counting machines.

• If the recount changes the result, that change is not reliable enough to change the certificate. Instead, it provides a basis for a contest of the election.