PRESTONSBURG - Sam Howell was confirmed as the next Mayor of the City of Martin following a recanvass of the election results Thursday at the Floyd County court house in Prestonsburg.
The recanvass of the election added two absentee paper votes for Thomasine Robinson which had previously been uncounted, but was not enough to overcome Howell’s lead in the election. The final results of the election following the recanvass was 161 votes for Sam Howell, and 158 votes for Thomasine Robinson.
Thomasine Robinson, who was present Thursday during the recanvass suggested that her poll challenger, Rena Breeding, had challenged several votes at the Martin precinct, and was not given any “challenge papers.” Breeding claims that she challenged more than 16 votes at the Martin precinct.
“I don’t care to lose,” said Robinson, “but I want to lose fairly.”
According to County Clerk Chris Waugh, the sheriffs report from the precincts listed no challenges. When questioned by Robinson’s attorney, Doug McSween, about the signature roster, Waugh said that the signature roster had already been sent to the State Board of Elections.
During the recanvass, James “Red” Robinson, Thomasine Robinson’s husband, asked several pointed questions for the members of the Board of Elections.
“What about the chaos that went on inside the precinct polling place?”
“I don’t know about that,” said Waugh. “Were here to do a recanvass “Red,” these are things to talk about at another time. The purpose of this is not to get into the whole election. This is just making sure that there weren’t any clerical errors… from there, whatever action you want to take; what requests you want to make can be done at that time.”
Then Thomasine Robinson asked, “What about the people that came through the side door that didn’t have to register those votes?”
“I hate to intercede here,” said County Attorney Keith Bartley. “But if you have complaints about things that you believe are wrong, then you need to report those to an investigative agency. This is just a recanvass, this is not a criminal investigation, so if you think something was done wrong, you need to report that to the Attorney General’s office, or FBI, or some other investigative agency.”
“I think several people tried to do that Keith, but no one would return their phone call,” said Robinson.
Bartley responded, “Well, that may be the case, but that’s not what were here for today, were here to do a recanvass, and that’s what were going to accomplish.”
James Robinson’s temper reportedly flared before things got underway, as several witnesses claimed that he had made verbal threats toward Sam Howell.
County Attorney Bartley confirmed that a warrant had been issued for the arrest of James “Red” Robinson. Robinson was later arrested on charges of menacing and terroristic threatening, and lodged in the Floyd County Detention Center.
During the recanvass, Robinson’s attorney indicated that she was also requesting a ‘recount.’ A recount can only be requested after a recanvass. If Robinson chooses to sue the county board of elections in circuit court then a recount will go forward.
A drawn out legal battle over the election results could ensue, though according to Keith Bartley, unless the judge in the case should find cause to set aside the election results, Sam Howell will be the city of Martin’s mayor on January 1, 2013.
Sam Howell said that he had challengers in the precincts as well, and that to his knowledge, no challenges were made.
Howell said he thought the election “seemed to go pretty fair.”
According to Howell, upon taking his position as Mayor of Martin, his first act of duty will be to request an audit of the cities finances be performed by the State Auditor as well as requesting an investigation by federal authorities of what he termed, a “misuse of funds.”
Howell says the biggest challenges he will face is the cities debt, and its ongoing issues with it’s sewer stations.
“People have to stuff rags into their sinks to fight back the smell of sewer backing up,” said Howell.
According to figures from Thursday’s recount, Sam Howell won both the Martin and John Possum voting precincts, while Robinson acquired more votes though absentee.
Those present for Thursday’s recount included the County Clerk Chris Waugh, County Attorney Keith Bartley, Board of elections representatives Kurt Hall, Mike Jarrell, and Sheriff John K. Blackburn. Thomasine Robinson and several associates were in attendance as well as Sam Howell. Doug McSween listened to the proceedings via conference call.