Election officials double-checking Kentucky vote totals

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Anderson County Clerk Jason Denny looks over the printouts from the voting machines during the remcanvass of the results from the election for Kentucky Governor in Lawrenceburg, Ky., Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. Election officials across Kentucky have started double-checking vote totals that show Republican Gov. Matt Bevin trailing Democrat Andy Beshear by more than 5,000 votes. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Election officials across Kentucky double-checked vote totals Thursday after the Election Day count showed Republican Gov. Matt Bevin trailing Democrat Andy Beshear by more than 5,000 votes.

The bitterly fought governor’s race appears headed toward a crossroads, with Bevin still refusing to concede. He’s acknowledged that the statewide recanvass is highly unlikely to change the outcome.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes was expected to announce results of the recanvass later Thursday. A recanvass is a check of the vote count to ensure the results were added correctly. It’s not a recount, meaning officials in each of Kentucky’s 120 counties have not been checking individual ballots.

In Anderson County, the recanvass took about 15 minutes and resulted in no changes to vote totals in a county that Bevin won. The small cluster of observers included the local elections board as well as party representatives.

County Clerk Jason Denny proclaimed it an example of “transparency.” Denny and his staff methodically rechecked the results from each precinct.

It was the same in Jefferson, which includes Louisville and is the state’s most populous county; there were no changes to the vote totals, according to local elections officials. Beshear overwhelmed Bevin in the county, winning by nearly 100,000 votes.

Bevin, an ally of President Donald Trump, insisted on this process even though he was under no illusions that the recanvass would change anything.

“There might be some adjustment, but it usually may be a number moves up and a number moves down,” he told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday. “But it’s not likely to be a material change.”

Bevin’s options after the recanvass include contesting the election, which could put the outcome in the hands of the GOP-led legislature.

Asked if he’ll concede if the vote totals stay about the same, Bevin replied: “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

Bevin would have 30 days to contest the outcome once it is certified by the state Board of Elections, which is scheduled to meet Nov. 21.

The last time Kentucky lawmakers decided a governor’s race was the 1899 election, in a dispute marked by the assassination of the Democrat who was declared the winner.

Bevin faces a growing chorus of Bluegrass State Republicans urging him to accept the results of the recanvass unless he can point to evidence of substantial voter fraud. Bevin told the AP on Wednesday that he knows “for a fact” that ballots were counted illegally, making references to absentee ballots without offering explicit examples of wrongdoing.

Asked about the swirl of unsubstantiated allegations of irregularities, Denny said: “All I can answer to is Anderson County. And that’s not the case. We take pride in the Election Day process and how we do it.”

Denny, a Republican, said he hopes the governor concedes after the recanvass, unless evidence of wrongdoing surfaces.

“If there is proof, then I understand why he would want to go on,” he said.

But if no proof is shown, Bevin should “apologize and concede,” he said.

Beshear, the state attorney general and the son of a two-term Kentucky governor, has declared victory and begun preparing to become governor next month.

Last week’s election results showed Bevin trailing Beshear by more than 5,000 votes out of more than 1.4 million cast, for a lead of less than 0.4 percentage points.

The Associated Press has not declared a winner, in keeping with its policy not to call races close enough to go to a recount. Although Kentucky’s recount law doesn’t apply to a governor’s election, the AP is applying that same standard here.

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Associated Press Writer Dylan Lovan contributed to this report from Louisville, Kentucky.

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(This story was originally published on November 14, 2019)

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