Judge certifies recount of losing candidate Jessica Neal in 24th Senate District race

Campbell County Judge Daniel Zalla certified the recount in the Republican Senate District 24 primary election between Jessica Neal and Shelley Funke Frommeyer.

Zalla’s opinion said that after the recount, Neal definitely lost the election – and the opinion also said it also showed that what some voter fraud theorists say publicly is radically different from what they say under oath.

Neal finished second in a three-way race narrowly won by Shelley Funke Frommeyer. Frommeyer will face Democratic and Highland Heights City Councilman Rene Heinrich in November.

Neal, a member of the Campbell County Republican Party’s Election Integrity Committee, pushed conspiracy theories about the Kentucky election and its potential for fraud.

“It was a pretty close race, and I strongly believe in making sure we have a safe election,” Neal said in May of his reasoning for a recount. Secretary of State Michael G. Adams, also a Republican, called Neal’s efforts “frivolous.”

So Neal went to court to seek a recount following his 3% loss, where he was asked to pay over $57,000 for the full recount.

“Judge Zalla’s order confirmed the obvious: We are holding fair, free, and honest elections in Kentucky,” Adams said.

Neal was granted another hearing after a recount did not change the election result. The recount began on August 10 and ended on August 11. Campbell County Clerk Jim Luersen said the machines behaved as they were supposed to, and in all four counties there was only one problem with a vote due to an “overvote “.

Overvoting occurs when a voter marks a ballot in such a way that the machine has difficulty reading the ballot. The machine spits out the ballot and the voter has the opportunity to cast their vote again. However, in the case of Campbell County, the voter chose not to recast their vote for the Senate race. However, during the manual counting of the ballots, they were able to take this vote into consideration.

In a petition filed in August, Neal said there were issues with how the voting machines were sealed. Zalla presided over the recount case and scheduled an 11 a.m. hearing for Friday, August 19.

“It is important to note that the machine seals will not be broken until the team is ready to count that particular machine,” the motion reads. “Machines that arrived in court with seals already broken cannot be verified as to whether their content reflects the exact same content that appeared on election night at 6:00 p.m. May 17.”

But Zalla’s motion, based on Luersen’s testimony, said such seals are not integral to the integrity of voting machines and are not required by law. The yellow seals in question were affixed voluntarily to the scanner part of the machines.

“We don’t have to put the seals on, but I did because of all the craziness around the election,” Luersen said during the hearing.

Alongside Neal, Stephen Knipper, an Erlanger councilman and former chief of staff to former Lieutenant Governor Jenean Hampton, and who also co-leads the ‘Restore Election Integrity Tour’ with Senator Adrienne Southworth (R-Anderson ), testified in this hearing. Southworth has already testified in another hearing as part of the recount.

When questioned under oath, Neal and Knipper said there was no evidence of impropriety in the election.

Campbell County District Attorney Steve Franzen interviewed Knipper.

“Do you believe that the petitioner’s election recount was inaccurate,” Franzen asked.

“No,” Knipper replied.

“And you don’t have any evidence to bring to this court today that the recount was inaccurate, do you,” Franzen asked.

“I don’t have any proof, no,” Knipper said.

Additionally, Neal suggested that the recount order for the proceedings was not enforced by recount chairman Jack Porter. But, in her testimony, she said it was done fairly.

“Do you think he conducted the recount unfairly,” Franzen asked.

“I don’t think it was unfair how he did it,” Neal said under oath.

Southworth and Knipper recently attended Mike Lindell’s Moment of Truth summit and suggested Campbell County ballots were stuffed. Neal was also present. Lindell is the founder of My Pillow and a vocal supporter of the annulment of the 2020 US presidential election results in which then-President Trump was defeated.

“If the machines do things, they’re going to have to stuff the ballots for the recounts to work, and we’ve observed that,” Southworth said, reiterating the false claim about the seals. “She (gesturing to Neal) walks on the very first morning of recount day, almost half the machines – seals broken.”

Adams said via Twitter that what these recount petitioners say in public versus what they say under oath is very different.

Adams said he hopes these election integrity deniers “stop the madness.”

“These frivolous recount efforts continue to cost taxpayers, disrupt the work of election officials and threaten our ability to prepare for the November election,” Adams said. “We checked the technology and it works. Stop the madness.

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