“What we know is that there really are a number of irregularities,” he said, adding that “there’s more than a little bit of history of vote fraud in our state.”
Without providing details, Bevin cited “thousands of absentee ballots that were illegally counted,” reports of voters being “incorrectly turned away” from polling places and “a number of machines that didn’t work properly.” He said his campaign would provide more information as it is gathered, and he did not take questions from reporters.
“We simply want to ensure that there is integrity in the process,” Bevin said at the close of his statement. “We owe this to the people of Kentucky.”
Beshear, who declared victory Tuesday night, is eager to move on and seal his lead in the vote count. At a Wednesday morning press conference in Louisville, where both candidates spent election night, Beshear said he was formally launching his transition team, with only about a month to go until the scheduled Dec. 10 inauguration.
“We’re confident in the outcome of the election, but today is about moving forward,” Beshear said. “The election is over. No one else is going to cast a vote. It ended last night.”
The Associated Press has declined to call the contest, citing the relatively tight margin and Bevin’s protest.
The recanvass means Kentucky’s 120 counties will check their voting machines and absentee ballots to ensure they were counted correctly, but they will not examine individual ballots. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said the recanvass will be conducted on Nov. 14.
In his comments to reporters, Bevin also criticized Grimes for her role as the state’s top elections official. He was specifically bothered by Grimes telling CNN Tuesday night that Beshear had won the race and cited a number of scandals surrounding the outgoing Democratic officeholder, including the conviction of her father, Democratic powerbroker Jerry Lundergan, for illegally funding Grimes’ 2014 Senate campaign against Sen. Mitch McConnell.
“This is a family and an office that have been very corrupt,” Bevin said.
The gubernatorial recanvass will be the first statewide audit in more than three years. In the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, Hillary Clinton led Bernie Sanders by 1,924 votes after the initial count. The state-paid recanvass didn’t change the totals for any of the candidates by even a single vote.
If Bevin decides to seek a recount, he would have to pay for it. As of Oct. 21 — the last report filed with the state’s Registry of Election Finance — his campaign still had $846,000 in cash on hand, though it likely used much of that on TV advertising and other campaign operations in the closing weeks of the race.
There is a nuclear option for Bevin. As all the votes were counted Tuesday night, a prominent Kentucky Republican was reportedly floating the possibility that — should Bevin exhaust his options with the election authorities — the governor could contest the result with the state legislature, which is controlled by Republicans and could overrule the final vote count.
“There’s less than one-half of 1 percent, as I understand, separating the governor and [Beshear],” state Senate President Robert Stivers told the Louisville Courier Journal. “We will follow the letter of the law and what various processes determine.”