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Sheriff’s election recount stopped early by challenger

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A recount in the Oklahoma County Sheriff's race was stopped Wednesday afternoon at the Oklahoma County Election Board after Sheriff John Whetsel's challenger, Republican Darrell Sorrels, realized he would not win.

Last week, Whetsel called the recount "harassment" and "total lunacy."

It was supposed to take weeks to recount 253,191 votes for the Sheriff's office.

Wednesday morning, Sorrels, who lost that race in a landslide, was inside the Election Board watching the slow hand count.

On Election Tuesday, he received only 35 percent of the vote against Whetsel, the Democratic incumbent.

"I chose to have a recount for accountability," Sorrels said.

Sorrels had concerns over the way ballot results were coming in election night.

He said early returns on several media outlets showed him up 10 percentage points.

"Then all the numbers went to zero and it was two hours and thirty minutes before the numbers came back," Sorrels said. "(Then) it showed (Whetsel) ahead. Ours was the only race in Oklahoma that did that."

Sooner Tea Party Co-Founder Al Gerhart was at the Election Board Wednesday morning in support of Sorrels.

Gerhart said, "What we're saying is, the first thing to do is to start counting these precincts and by golly, if it's not matching up, then we're going to have to talk about 'was there some (computer) hacking going on?'"

Sheriff Whetsel's campaign manager, Pat Hall, called the recount a waste of time.

"They're here today to play out their conspiracy theory," Hall said. "It's a game of 'Dungeons and Dragons' to a lot of them."

Hall said it was mathematically impossible for Sorrels to win in the recount, who lost by 74,544 votes.

He also questioned a $25,800 check that paid for the recount, which came from Enterprise Investments, Inc.

He said the law only allows $5,000 campaign contributions.

"It can't be a corporate check, anyhow," Hall said. "That is illegal in Oklahoma campaign law."

But Wednesday afternoon, the Oklahoma County Election Board announced that Sorrel's attorney, Stephen Jones, stopped the recount.

That's because across 14 precincts, Sorrels had a net gain of only one vote.

Election Board Secretary Doug Sanderson said because the recount was stopped much earlier than expected, it will only cost Enterprise Investments, Inc. about $2,500 and they will get the remaining money back.