© 2024 KOSU
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

If a recount can't decide a tied sheriff race in Carter County, random chance will

Chris Bryant (left) and DJ
Chris Bryant (left) and DJ Long received the exact same number of votes in the Carter County Sheriff Republican primary.

Last week, Oklahomans voted in county sheriff primaries across the state. In Carter County, the two Republican candidates each received 2,569 votes.

Since the state doesn’t allow runoffs for races with only two candidates, the Carter County Election Board has to follow unusual procedures to break the tie between current Sheriff Chris Bryant and challenger DJ Long. Because only Republicans ran, the winner will be the next sheriff.

If a recount doesn’t settle the race, it will come down to pure chance — a name drawn from a container.

Carter County Election Board Secretary Diane Hall said the candidates' will choose the container. Their names will be written in identical font on identical papers folded identically. District Court Judge Dennis Morris Hall will draw the name.

Hall said the candidates had hoped provisional ballots would decide the race. If you show up at a polling place, but your name doesn’t appear on the voter roll, a provisional ballot keeps a record of your vote. The election board vets these ballots to see if they can confirm the voter is actually registered; if not, they’re not counted.

But after the election board examined five provisional ballots, it found none of them were valid votes. As Hall announced on Friday, the race remains deadlocked.

This isn’t the first time Carter County has seen a tied election, Hall said. The last time was for a Lone Grove City Council race in 2012. Neither candidate called for a recount, so that went straight to a drawing.

This time, incumbent Chris Bryant has asked for a recount — not by machine, but by hand. Those hands will belong to Hall, her assistant and six election board members.

They’ll have to gather all the ballots from different locations, sort the early voting ballots into precinct order, gather all the Republican ballots and then count each vote.

Hall said the last hand recount was in 2014. It was for a county commission, so it had only 800 total ballots, but it took 8 hours to count them all. More than 5,000 residents cast votes in the current sheriff election.

If the hand count affirms the tie, the Carter County Election Board will schedule a special meeting for the drawing. Hall said she’s hoping to get it done before the 4th of July.

* indicates required

Graycen Wheeler is a reporter covering water issues at KOSU as a corps member with Report for America.
KOSU is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.
Related Content