A second candidate who was defeated in last week’s Democratic Party primary has asked for a recount.
Michael McCray, who finished second in a three-way race for a Pine Bluff Ward 3 alderman’s seat, asked for a recount Friday afternoon but that request was denied by Election Coordinator Will Fox because it was made more than 48 hours after the preliminary and unofficial results were announced, the time period specified by state law.
McCray, who served as chairman of the city airport commission under former mayor Carl A. Redus Jr., was beaten by incumbent Ward 3 Alderman Bill Brumett, who unofficially received 1,030 votes to 492 for McCray. The third candidate, Sheila Moon, got 439.
Jefferson County Judge candidate Ivan Whitfield asked for a recount of the early voting results during last Thursday’s meeting of the Jefferson County Election Commission and that recount is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Whitfield also paid the required fee.
Whitfield lost to incumbent County Judge Dutch King last week, unofficially collecting 4,864 votes to 4,971 for King.
McCray also indicated he wanted a recount of early voting. In his initial request, he said “I simply ask that the municipal employees recount the Ward 3 results (which are contained within the Jefferson County records) while they are recounting the County Judge’s race. A recount will probably not change the outcome of my election, the incumbent will most likely still be ahead; however, a relatively small number of votes difference could trigger a runoff election.”
He also said “Chief Whitfield and I are not the first people to question suspicious early vote election returns — we are just the latest.”
In a series of emails between McCray and Fox on Friday and Saturday, McCray said Whitfield “should be able to request that the scope of his recount (which was timely bought and paid for) include the Ward 3 race —since this could also demonstrate problems within the Jefferson County voting system.
“Even if you ultimately choose not to change any of the results reported in my race, the real time audit is evidence which could be used to support a state or justice department inquiry into voting improprieties or irregularities in Pine Bluff.”
Fox responded Saturday afternoon, telling McCray that under the rules governing recounts, there are certain time frames and costs that must be followed. Fox said he did not have the authority to call for a recount.
“However, I am required to perform a manual audit of the returns,” Fox said in the email. “Having done so, I have found no discrepancies … Your vote total shows to be 492. I can certainly allow you to review this report.”
In his response, McCray said “When Chief Whitfield presented his check and requested the recount, he specifically states ‘he was not doing this just for Ivan Whitfield but that he was doing this to ensure public confidence and integrity of the voting process in Jefferson County, AND there may be other candidates who question the fairness of their elections who do not have the ability to pay for a recount.’
“We have seen clearly unconstitutional ‘sign’ ordinances being enforced to quell free speech and the ‘selective enforcement’ of parking regulations to prevent political participation in addition to other dubious incidents involving Election Commissioner(s) and the Election Coordinator that I have previously discussed,” McCray said in the email. “The ugly truth is than an emerging majority is battling with the entrenched establishment for political dominance in Pine Bluff/Jefferson County.”