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Judge rules for Grant Miller in city council voting irregularity case

Grant Miller
Grant Miller for City Council
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Grant Miller

A judge has ruled for Grant Miller in a case involving an election irregularity in a Tulsa City Council race.

Tulsa County District Court Judge Doug Drummond denied incumbent Councilor Mykey Arthrell’s petition to void the election, saying in his ruling that Arthrell fell short of the bar needed to call for a revote.

“This high standard is required because, as a matter of public policy, courts indulge every presumption in favor of the validity of an election,” wrote Drummond.

In his ruling, Drummond conceded the likelihood that “one or more qualified electors were denied the right to vote,” but said probability was not enough to show with “mathematical certainty” that the election was flawed enough to make declaring a winner impossible.

Arthrell said that he was disappointed in the decision and expressed concern over an investigation into Miller’s actions on election day.

“It makes it questionable for the voters. If someone does end up getting a conviction for voting crimes, does that mean that Councilor Miller would then have to step down from office if he gets convicted of a voting crime? It’s just a very messy situation,” said Arthrell.

According to Drummond’s opinion, Miller is under investigation for entering Precinct 77 and recording poll workers there on election day, something that Miller “clearly should not have done,” according to Drummond. Miller testified during a previous hearing he visited multiple voting locations on Nov. 8.

Miller’s attorney, Jim Hicks, said he isn’t concerned about the investigation because he said Miller didn’t interfere with any voters.

“I think the best policy would have been for Grant Miller not to go there, but he was just trying to find out if in fact ballots were being denied to people. He didn’t electioneer. There was some testimony to that effect, but it didn’t really go very far,” said Hicks.

Arthrell said he doesn’t know if he will petition for relief from the state Supreme Court, citing the cost of an expedited legal battle.

The case involved about one hour on the morning of Nov. 8 at Precinct 77 when the election board said reports were made that some voters didn’t receive ballots for the city council election. According to the election board, 35 voters may not have been able to vote.

Later that same day, Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado held a press conference saying only Republicans were denied ballots. That was refuted by Election Board Secretary Gwen Freeman in the same press conference, who said it was members from all parties who weren’t given ballots as the precinct initially opened.

Arthrell, who lost to Miller by a margin of 24 votes after a recount, later accused Regalado of holding the press conference to sway Republican voters to the polls.

Drummond’s opinion says the consequences of Regalado’s statements are too uncertain to warrant a voiding of the election, while also noting that Regalado's investigation was still "pending" after his statements at the press conference.

Drummond said the data provided by the precinct’s voter registry, which Freeman said was "flawed" but also the best evidence as to the number of 35, was additionally not robust enough to invalidate the election results.

“This showing cannot be a mere probability,” wrote Drummond. “In sum, more than 10,014 qualified voters journeyed to their respective precincts on November 8, 2022, and elected Miller by a slim margin to be the next District 5 City Councilor.”

Before joining Public Radio Tulsa, Elizabeth Caldwell was a freelance reporter and a teacher. She holds a master's from Hollins University. Her audio work has appeared at KCRW, CBC's The World This Weekend, and The Missouri Review. She is a south Florida native.