County and election officials were scrambling late Thursday to determine if Tuesday’s election on renewing the county’s penny road tax was valid.
Voters approved the tax by a 58.22 margin with a 6.28 percent turnout.
However, allegations arose Thursday that notice of the election had not been published as required by law.
The statute requiring publication of tax elections was enacted in 1910, according to its online history at the Oklahoma State Courts Network legal research website.
However, sales taxes did not exist in the state until 1933, and the current law allowing counties to levy a sales tax of up to 2 percent if voters approve traces its origins back to 1983 and has been amended or replaced in 1984, 1985, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004.
County commissioners approved a resolution calling the election in March and a summary was published as part of the minutes of that meeting. But allegedly there was no full publication of the question as required by the 1910 law.
Rogers County Clerk Robin Anderson told the Claremore Progress that Election Board Secretary Julie Dermody should have handled publication.
Dermody, backed by the State Election Board, said the responsibility was the County Clerk’s.
“I hate the fact it is happening, but it should not reflect in any way on the Election Board. We did our part,” Dermody added.
Although a Tiawah-area resident identified as Myron Grabaski filed a complaint about the lack of publication with the election board, Dermody said the issue is outside that body’s jurisdiction.
It is scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. Friday to certify the results, but its consideration will be limited to whether the votes were correctly handled and counted.
Issues such as whether the election call was properly published would have to be handled through a filing in Rogers County District Court.
County Commission Chairman Kirt Thacker said a new election, if required, would cost $25,000. It was unclear if the county’s errors and omissions insurance would cover the cost.
Thacker, Dermody and members of the district attorney’s office conferred much of the day about the situation.
And to add to the confusion, Dermody said it was very possible that it would not be possible to get a quorum for Friday’s election board meeting. That would put any action there off until at least next week, she said.