Provisional ballot count keeps Bentley in runoff

In the final vote totals for the gubernatorial primary election, released June 8 by the Alabama Republican Party, Robert Bentley defeated Tim James by 167 votes for a spot in the runoff against Bradley Byrne.

However, Freddy Ard, chairman of the Shelby County Republican Party, filed for a recount in Shelby County on Tim James’ behalf June 9.

The final vote totals include provisional ballots, 1,000 of which have been counted in the past week. The numbers are still considered unofficial until Secretary of State Beth Chapman certifies them later this week.

Bentley received 123,959 votes, or 25.15 percent, while James received 123,792 votes, or 25.12 percent. Byrne received 137,448 votes, or 27.89 percent.

The close vote total between Bentley and James does not trigger an automatic recount, but James said in a statement he would call for a recount.

“The vote margin remains razor thin. Because of this, I have decided to move forward with a recount of the Republican gubernatorial primary vote,” he said. “Let me be very clear: I do not want to win this race unless I have won this race. It is not our objective to invent votes, but to make sure there is an accurate count of votes cast.”

James spokesperson Brett Hall said James plans to request a recount in the 40 counties with the most voter turnout, which includes Shelby County.

Because James requested the recount, he will be held accountable for the cost of the recount.

Bentley said in a statement he is declaring victory and will move forward to campaign for the runoff.

“I congratulate Tim James for waging a hard fought campaign, but am ready to debate the key challenges facing Alabama with my runoff opponent,” Bentley said. “I look forward to reaching out to the supporters of my primary opponents, earning each of their votes and communicating my vision of where I want to lead this great state of ours.”

The runoff election will be held July 13.