Legislative Victory in Question

November 5, 2004 -- Posted 6:30 p.m. CDT

Jonesboro, AR -- Just 3 days after election day, one newly elected legislator finds himself at the center of a vote recount. Arkansas legislators reported to the state capitol on Friday to draw for seniority and find out their committee assignments. Among the legislators, Ray Kidd of District 75, his victory is being questioned by challenger Byron Holt, and a vote recount is scheduled for next week.

Holt trails the front-runner democrat Ray Kidd by 14 votes, and with that small margin standing between them, and with military absentee ballots still outstanding, Holt has requested a recount.

"He has 48 hours to request a recount, which he did yesterday," said election commissioner Warren Dupwe.

Holt is spending $2,500 for this recount, but he's pushing for it to be done by hand. Election commissioners have denied his request.

In a phone interview Holt told K8 News if he's going to spend that money, he feels he should get his money's worth. Holt went on to question, if he were a democrat would he be getting the same resistance to a hand recount?

"If I'm Byron Holt and he's my client, I don't think anyone holds it against him for asking for a recount on a 14 vote difference," said campaign strategist Gary Harpole.

Members of the Craighead County Election Commission, which is made up of 2 democrats and 1 republican say they operate in a non-partisan manner. They say the rules state a recount must be conducted in the manner in which the vote was initially counted, in this case by machine. If there is some doubt however about the accuracy of the machine, then commissioners could run a hand recount.

"The people who furnished the software, they had 2 representatives here at the election counting and everything went pretty smooth," said Dupwe.

Meanwhile, the current winner Ray Kidd made his way with other legislators to the state capitol on Friday, a move Holt says is a little presumptive with 16 military ballots uncounted and the legitimacy of this race still looming.

"It's important for the people of 76 for someone to be out there to draw for seniority purposes and with Ray being the presumptive winner it was critical for him to be there," said Harpole.

The machine recount is scheduled for next Thursday.