The Alabama Republican Party Candidate Committee is closing the door to the public when it hears the contest potentially changing the outcome of the Alabama Senate District 27 Republican primary.
The results of the May primary election had political newcomer Jay Hovey with a one vote lead over three term incumbent Tom Whatley. Tom Whatley’s father Charles Whatley contested the election “based upon the casting of illegal votes.”
The Republican Party said in a release, “The hearings will be conducted based on Alabama State Law, Rules of Civil Procedure and Alabama Republican Party Executive Committee Bylaws and Rules.”
Since the May 31 canvassing of results and examination of provisional ballots, representatives from Hovey and Whatley have been in Tallapoosa County examining absentee and provisional ballots, according to officials. Tallapoosa County officials have also been subpoenaed by the party to be at Saturday’s hearing.
It is all closed to the public — even though the primary election is conducted with public funds. And public funds have been expensed in gathering material for the contest.
On election night as vote totals are tallied in each county’s courthouse, the results are handed over to each party’s representative. At canvassing each party examines each provisional ballot accepted and adds it to the totals. The state party then certifies the election and names are presented to state and county election officials to be added to the general election ballot.
Candidates qualify with either the county or state party who then gets the name on the appropriate primary ballot.
The State Republican Party said the basic format of the hearing would allow each party in the contest or their legal counsel to present their case and answer questions from the committee.
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The committee may request additional materials from the parties in order to reach a final decision and will release a decision after hearing all the information.
Charles Whatley contested the race with the state party just days after the canvassing.
“I contest the nomination of Mr. Hovey based upon the casting of illegal votes in his favor and the rejection of legal votes in favor of Tom Whatley,” Charles Whatley said in a letter to the party. “The number of which would be sufficient to rightfully change the vote totals in favor of naming Tom Whatley as the nominee for the party.”
Charles Whatley attached an affidavit stating grounds for contesting the outcome. He stated there was “malconduct on behalf of the inspector, canvassing board and/or others involved in the process of tallying, certifying and/or canvassing of votes.”
Charles Whatley also contends more than two “illegal votes” were cast for Hovey and that more than two votes for his son were rejected in the final tally.
Charles Whatley also alleged there was a “miscalculation, mistake, misconduct in counting, tallying, certifying or canvassing which of itself alone or in conjunction with the giving of illegal votes or the rejection of legals votes or any other ground would when everything is corrected, reduce the number of legal votes cast for the declared nominee Mr. Hovey down to or below those of Mr. Whatley in the race.”
The candidate committee will also hear election contests for Alabama House Districts 28 and 29.