Missing ballots could cause problems for District 71 special election

TULSA - A comedy of errors has put the District 71 state Representative seat in the lurch.

The original April 3 results had Democrat Dan Arthrell winning the special election by three votes with a voting total of 1,418.

Arthrell's oposition, Republican Katie Henke, finished with 1,415 votes, a tally so close she asked for a recount.

The results of the recount showed  Henke won by one vote over Arthrell, 1,415 to 1,414.

With the recount showing four less votes than the original total, the election's murkiness continued with the discovery of an electronic balloting malfunction.

Two of the votes -- votes cast for Arthrell -- were believed to be counted twice during the original election, according to officials at the Tulsa County Election Board. Officials believe there was an issue with the machine.

But losing two votes would have kept him in the lead, 1,416 to 1,415.

Two votes were still missing, until they were found in the bottom of a ballot box Wednesday evening.

Both votes were for Arthrell -- votes that would have given him a one-vote victory.

Tulsa County Election Board Secretary Patty Bryant says an election worker failed to retrieve the votes and they were not counted during Wednesday's recount.

With the Tulsa County Election Board already certifying the election a Henke win, Arthrell currently sits as the loser in the district race.

"An open meeting" was held Thursday morning in a Tulsa County courtroom to discuss the cloud surrounding the four questionable votes.

Judge Daman Cantrell did not make a ruling but intends to meet again with both parties early next week.

Bryant says a possible certification by the Oklahoma State Election Board could come Monday, potentially too late for any judge's ruling.

The eventual election victor would succeed former Rep. Dan Sullivan, who resigned from the seat in December.

The victor would only hold the seat for six weeks before a new election in November.

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