TULSA, Okla. — Grant Miller won the District 5 City Council Seat by 28 votes, but his opponent Mykey Arthrell said he’ll contest the election over ballot irregularities.
The Tulsa County Election Board reports that Miller won the race with 5,062 votes to incumbent City Councilor Mykey Arthrell’s 5,034 votes.
The final numbers show Miller won the seat by 28 votes.
But, the victory is complicated by 31 voters who were not given City Council ballots at one east Tulsa precinct.
Arthrell said he is going to challenge the results but until he does, and a judge orders another election, Miller is the winner of the race.
Miller shared a video he recorded on his phone after he said two of his supporters told him they were not given City Council ballots at precinct 77.
“I’m a candidate for City Council and I’m being told that Republicans are being denied City Council ballots at this polling place,” Millers said in the recording. “Is that correct?”
A poll worker is heard saying, “No.”
Miller continued to press for answers.
“I received two separate calls from two separate voters who said that they were told here that they did not get to receive a City Council ballot.”
Another poll worker is heard saying, “We were making that mistake and we got it straightened out.”
The poll worker admited to counting 29 ballots that were not handed out.
Miller asked again. “So, you did deny Republicans City Council ballots?” he asked.
The poll worker says, “Yes. We made a mistake this morning and we corrected it.”
Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado addressed that video at a press conference on Tuesday and said the city election ballots were withheld from Republicans.
“And what we, our detectives, were able to ascertain is the following. That the pollsters did, in fact, get interviewed and confirmed that they did not hand out yellow ballots, which were the City Council ballots to Republicans, and they were only handed out to Independents and Democrats,” Regalado said.
But, later in the press conference, Tulsa County Election Board Secretary Gwen Freeman clarified that it was not just Republicans who did not get the City Council ballots.
She said there were 19 Republicans, seven Democrats, four Independents and one Libertarian who were denied City Council ballots.
Freeman said they were among the first group of voters who walked in the door on Tuesday morning.
On Wednesday, FOX23 asked Sheriff Regalado why he said it was only Republicans who didn’t get to vote in the City Council race for District 5.
“Well, if you’ve gone over the presser, you’ll understand that when I said ‘29 Republicans,’ the first time I’m confirming what’s on that video that we showed at the very beginning,” Regalado said. “The second time I confirmed it was the interviews with my investigators, where they also confirmed that Republicans were not given the ballots. The breakdown of those or whether or not those people specifically knew it was just Republicans, which at this point, based on the information, we assume that is correct, but the breakdown is what they were able to determine at the Election Board and it may be correct.”
Incumbent City Councilor Mykey Arthrell told FOX23 on Tuesday he thinks Sheriff Regalado shouldn’t be involved with this investigation.
“So the Sheriff shouldn’t be investigating what’s happening here. He’s endorsed my opponent. He has made himself bias,” Arthrell said.
A billboard in Tulsa shows Regalado shaking hands with Candidate Miller. A Facebook post for Miller’s campaign shows the same.
FOX23 asked Regalado about that endorsement affecting the investigation.
“I have an obligation to make sure that crimes occurring within my jurisdiction are investigated, specifically, electoral irregularities,” Regalado said. “That being said, that investigation is being overseen by my Undersheriff George Brown and my investigators had zero idea that I had anything to do with an endorsement of this particular candidate. And all that being said, in no way, shape or form had that any bearing on this case.”
The City Council ballot irregularities are now in the hands of the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office to decide if any laws have been broken.
Either candidate can file to contest the election results by Friday at 5:00 p.m.
Arthrell said he is seeking counsel before he files to contest the election results.
“I think that when 40 voters are unable to cast their ballot in an election with that margin, it means they could change the way that vote goes. And their voices deserve to be heard,” Arthrell said. “I’ve knocked all those doors in the neighborhood. Those are people that I talked to and counted on to vote. And when they were not given that chance, it could have made a difference.”
Miller won the election by 28 votes and he said he is not contesting it.
“The people of District 5 understand that, or have spoken, and they’ve decided that they want me to be the elected representative,” Miller said. “We need to make sure that our elections are fair and free from interference. That’s the bottom line and so if a candidate feels that they were wronged or that there was malfeasance in some way, they should contest the election. And that’s totally his decision. I personally have faith in our systems. I have faith in our institutions.”
If Arthrell contests the results by Friday at 5:00 p.m., it will go before a judge to decide if there will be another election.
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