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Law Professor: Kentucky Recount Law May Not Apply to Gov. Race

matt bevin
Timothy D. Easley
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, right, with his wife Glenna, speaks to supporters gathered at the republican party celebration event in Louisville, Ky., Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.

Listen to Cincinnati Edition live at noon M-F. Audio for this segment will be uploaded after 4 p.m. ET.

Republican Governor Matt Bevin refused to concede the results of Tuesday night's gubernatorial election that show his Democratic challenger, Attorney General Andy Beshear, with a lead of roughly 5,000 votes. In his speech to supporters Tuesday night, Bevin said the race was too close to call and also cited so-far unsubstantiated claims of voter irregularities as part of his reasoning not to bow out.

University of Kentucky College of Law Professor Joshua Douglas offered an interpretation of Kentucky election law in a conversation on Cincinnati Edition Wednesday. Douglas said that while a recanvass of all the votes cast in Kentucky's 120 counties could be ordered without any financial charge to any candidate, a recount of votes may not be permitted as it relates specifically to races for governor.

The state statute in question is 120 years old, and was utilized in the 1899 election that saw Covington native William Goebel, a Democrat who garnered the second-most votes that year, elevated to governor by actions undertaken by lawmakers.

Goebel was later assassinated and sworn in on his death bed after being shot in Frankfort. He remains the last governor of Kentucky from any Northern Kentucky county.

Meanwhile, in 2019, Republican Senate President Robert Stivers also suggested that the verdict on the election could ultimately again land in the hands of the General Assembly.

UK Professor Joshua Douglas explains how all that could play out.

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Michael Monks brings a broad range of experience to WVXU-FM as the host of Cincinnati Edition, Cincinnati Public Radio's weekday news and information talk show.