Recount Under Way In Republican Primary Runoff For Tulsa County Clerk

Thursday, September 6th 2012, 10:53 am
By: News On 6

A recount got under way on Thursday afternoon in the Republican primary run-off election for Tulsa County Clerk. 

An official with the Tulsa County Election Board said about half of the ballots had been recounted by 4 p.m. 

Current chief deputy clerk won Pat Key the run-off in August, but challenger Dean Martin called for a recount. 

The margin of victory for Key was slim. She won by less than 200 votes or just over 50 percent.

Martin paid the fee to request the recount.

According to court documents, Martin also took issue with over 200 irregularities he claims took place. Martin alleges ballots irregularities include some without a notary stamp or seal, mismatched notary dates, expired notary stamps, no witness address, no assistant signature and ballots that were notarized by family members, among others, documents say.

On Thursday morning, a judge said he would allow the recount to go forward, but set a later hearing for Sept. 14 at 9 a.m., when the allegations of irregularities will be addressed.

After the primary runoff, Martin released a statement that said, "...with over 263 precincts in Tulsa County, we are talking a difference of less than 1 vote per precinct. And where I come from, that definitely calls for an 'instant replay.'"

8/26/2012 Related Story: Stolen Tulsa County Campaign Signs Traced To Opponent's Campaign

Even before the recount was requested, the race was contentious.

Bixby's Lee Alan Belmonte, who is connected to the Key campaign, was arrested for possession of stolen property – Dean Martin campaign signs.

Martin volunteers said they noticed hundreds of signs were missing from private property, so they placed a dog-tracking device on one to catch the thief.

Belmonte was arrested three days before the run-off election, after the tracking device alerted Martin volunteers to the sign's movement, and they called police.

Key denied she authorized the alleged theft and went on to say the whole situation was blown out of proportion.

"…This is nothing more than an attempt by my opponent's desperate campaign to blow out of proportion a single act by a single overzealous volunteer in an attempt to smear my good name and reputation," she said in a statement the day of Belmonte's arrest.

Key and Martin are vying to replace Earlene Wilson, who is retiring after 12 years in office. No Democrats filed in the race.