Kentucky candidate posted a $22K bond for a recount, only to have the judge dismiss it

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A second Republican candidate in Kentucky had her recount petition dismissed by a judge Monday, though she had already posted a $21,700 bond two weeks earlier to begin the process.

Bridgette Ehly — who lost her primary race last month against GOP state House Speaker David Osborne by a blowout margin — is one of six losing candidates aligned with the small-government "liberty" movement in Kentucky who have filed for a formal hand recount of the ballots cast in the May primary.

Though she and other candidate petitioners had objected to the high cost of the recounts cited by local election officials — and the bond amount set by judges in hers and another case — Ehly posted the full $21,700 bond June 16, with the ballots and voting machines subsequently transported to Oldham Circuit Court.

However, Judge Jerry Crosby on Monday granted the motion of the Kentucky Board of Elections to dismiss Ehly's recount petition, writing that she did not properly name and serve Osborne and Oldham County Clerk Julie Barr as respondents in her petition, who are "necessary and indispensable parties for this recount."

Crosby ordered the ballots and voting equipment be transported back into the possession of the county clerk, with Ehly to be paid what was remaining on the bond — after factoring in the transportation and security expenses to move them there and back again.

More: If Kentucky 'liberty' candidates want recounts, judges say they will have to pay — a lot

The general counsel of the state Board of Elections has also filed motions to dismiss the five other recount petitions on the same grounds for failing to name county clerks and GOP primary opponents as parties.

Last week, Jackson Circuit Judge Oscar Gayle House ruled he was dismissing the recount petition of Gerardo Serrano, a perennial Republican candidate who lost by more than 71,000 votes to U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers in the 5th Congressional District.

Courtney Gilbert — another GOP state House candidate who lost to an incumbent in a landslide — had her bond set at $24,000 for a recount, which she has appealed.

However, the judge in her case indicated in a hearing last week that he would dismiss her petition on the same grounds once it returned to his court, no matter the outcome of that appeal.

Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams — who has criticized several of these recount petitions as "frivolous" and pushed by "conspiracy theorists" of unfounded election fraud claims — responded to the dismissal of Ehly's petition by tweeting: "Kentucky: 3. Flat Earth Society: 0."

“While these bad-faith recount petitions are being dismissed due to the incompetence of the parties seeking them, we nevertheless need to close the loophole in our law allowing sore losers who lost by landslides to harass election officials with frivolous lawsuits,” Adams said in a statement.

More: Kentucky secretary of state will push bill to stop 'frivolous' vote recount petitions

Adams first told The Courier Journal in early June that he would advocate for legislation in next year's session of the Kentucky General Assembly to only allow recounts when a losing candidate comes within 1percentage point of the winner — the same process under state law for the less-thorough method of vote recanvassing.

In a joint statement responding to the dismissal of the petitions of Ehly and Serrano, five of the recount petitioners criticized the ruling, while also blasting Adams for "making outrageous accusations" against their efforts and motives.

"Adams' behavior has many scratching their heads and wondering why all the dramatics?" the petitioners stated. "If the digital counting machines are safe and accurate, why fight so hard against verifying the results with a hand count?"

Adams serves as the chairman of the State Board of Elections.

Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams
Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams

While none of the candidates seeking a recount made specific allegations of fraud or wrongdoing in their petitions, Ehly has written in online posts that her purpose was to "check the tech" and "look under the hood" to root out any potential fraud.

State Sen. Adrienne Southworth, R-Lawrenceburg, recently testified in bond hearings for the petitions of Serrano and Jacob Clark, another candidate who lost to a GOP state House incumbent by a large margin.

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The sister of Gilbert, Southworth has been criticized for pushing unsubstantiated election fraud conspiracy theories at her "Restore Election Integrity" tour across the state over the past year.

In her post-primary campaign finance report filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance last week, Ehly reported raising more than $30,000 since that May 17 election, as she had pushed to raise funds for the recount bond on her campaign Facebook page.

Of those funds, $17,400 was a loan Ehly gave to her own campaign, while Southworth's campaign committee gave $400 and Southworth's husband contributed $1,000.

Clark indicated in the joint statement that Democrats should also be concerned about election security, as "programming errors have switched outcomes of races to the tune of thousands of votes difference."

Asked what races he was referring to, Clark cited the recent recount in a race for Georgia county commissioner — where a candidate in preliminary results was found to have no votes in most precincts by error, only to have advanced to a runoff election after a hand recount, which she later won.

Georgia elections officials cited technical and human errors for the initially erroneous results, spurred by late redistricting changes and a candidate dropping out of the race.

Reach reporter Joe Sonka at jsonka@courierjournal.com and follow him on Twitter at @joesonka. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today at the top of this page.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: After posting $22K bond, judge dismisses candidate's recount petition