On Tuesday, the Alabama Republican Party steering committee opted not to accept a challenge from Republican House District 2 hopeful Kimberly Butler, citing a late filing fee as the justification for the decision.
Butler's GOP primary opponent, former Limestone County Commissioner Ben Harrison, who earned a plurality in the May primary and won a runoff contest against Limestone County Commissioner Jason Black, was declared the party's nominee. Black will have no Democrat opposition on the November ballot.
The challenge stemmed from a primary race that 70 GOP voters from District 2 were incorrectly given ballots to vote in District 1.
"This contest was an opportunity to correct a colossal bureaucratic failure that effectively denied thousands of Republicans the right to vote for their candidate of choice in the primary," Butler said in a statement late Wednesday. "The neglect of certain government officials that led to voters receiving the wrong ballot was inexcusable, and we expected the committee to stand up for those voters and right this wrong. Just a few days ago, Secretary of State John Merrill fired people in one county for the same thing. All we asked for was a new, lawful runoff so that Republican voters could decide their nominee. Obviously, we think this was a wrong decision.
"While we appreciate the service of the volunteers on the State Executive Committee who have had to grapple with this and other election contests this year, we feel strongly that the right decision was to order a new election."
Harrison told Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5's "The Jeff Poor Show" on Wednesday that he wished the Alabama Republican Party's steering committee would have considered the merits in its decision-making process.
"I wished it had been decided on the merits of the case, not a technicality, but it is what it is," Harrison said. "But if you go in and look, if it is on the merits of the case, then you can go in and look at Section 17-13-71 that deals with grounds for contesting a race in the primary in the Alabama code. It lists six grounds for contesting a race. And six is a 'miscalculation, mistake, or misconduct in counting, tallying,' and I'm reading this, 'certifying, or canvassing which of itself alone or in conjunction with the giving of illegal votes or the rejection of legal votes, or any other ground, would, when everything is corrected, reduce the number of legal votes cast for the declared nominee,' that's me, 'down to or below those of some other candidate in that race.' That didn't happen.
"She supposedly has 42 affidavits [from people] who would have voted for her – even if you would have given her all 70, that wouldn't have made up the 175 in the primary vote that I was ahead or the 861 in the runoff. So she really doesn't have grounds. That's what I wished had been decided upon, but it wasn't. And it was a mistake. No one contests that the votes I received were invalid. So, it was a mistake. And the law does not address the issue. That is what I just read. It does not address the issue between the second and third candidates. You can make the argument that it should, and I would support legislation that would address that issue, but it does not. So, legally she doesn't have grounds, and that's what I wished had been decided upon."
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