Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin voiced concerns Wednesday night that voter fraud may have played a role in the state’s gubernatorial election – after an unofficial count placed the incumbent about 5,000 votes behind his Democratic challenger.
“What we know is that there really are a number of irregularities,” the governor told reporters about Tuesday’s election, adding that “there’s more than a little bit of history of vote fraud in our state.”
“There’s more than a little bit of history of vote fraud in our state.”
Bevin’s remarks came as he requested a recanvass of the results in his race against Democrat Andy Beshear, the state’s attorney general, who dismissed Bevin’s charges and was claiming victory.
The governor’s struggle at the polls came on an otherwise strong night for Republicans in Kentucky, as GOP candidates won races for state attorney general, secretary of state, auditor, agriculture commissioner and treasurer.
The nearly clean sweep by Republican candidates for Kentucky’s top jobs followed President Trump’s Monday night rally on their behalf – and seemed to contradict a mainstream-media narrative that the gubernatorial vote was a gauge of Trump’s popularity rather than Bevin’s.
Nevertheless, Bevin pointed Wednesday to “thousands of absentee ballots that were illegally counted,” alleged that some voters were “incorrectly turned away” and charged that some voting machines “didn’t work properly,” according to Politico.
He added: “We're in the process of getting affidavits and other information that will help us to get a better understanding of what did or did not happen,” according to the Associated Press.
Kentucky's secretary of state, Alison Lundergan Grimes, scheduled the recanvass for next Thursday. A recanvass is a check of the vote count to ensure the results were added correctly.
The commonwealth has no mandatory recount law, so if Bevin decides to pursue one he would need a court's approval.
Although Bevin refused to concede defeat conceding, some prominent Kentucky Republicans were speaking as if Beshear’s victory was a certainty.
“Governor-elect Beshear is entitled to the democratic legitimacy that comes with loser's consent,” GOP state Rep. Jason Nemes wrote on social media. “So let's go through the process honorably and expeditiously and give it to him.”
Republican strategist Scott Jennings referred to Beshear as Kentucky's next governor, wishing him "godspeed" and saying he "ran a good race.”
President Trump, in a Twitter message Wednesday, focused on his role in the Kentucky elections.
“Our big Kentucky Rally on Monday night had a massive impact on all of the races. Our big Kentucky Rally on Monday night had a massive impact on all of the races. The increase in Governors race was at least 15 points, and maybe 20!” Trump wrote.
Turnout in Kentucky was up by nearly 50 percent over the state's 2015 governor's race, increasing from 974,000 voters to more than 1.4 million. The number of voters Tuesday equaled turnout in Kentucky's 2014 race for U.S. Senate, rare for an election in an odd-numbered year.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.