Russ Barger sues Nebraska official to force hand recount in legislative race

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – A Nebraska Legislature candidate has sued Secretary of State Bob Evnen to force a hand recount in the race.

Russ Barger, a candidate for the District 26 legislative seat, which represents northeast Lincoln, filed the lawsuit on Monday.

His opponent, George Dungan, won by 224 votes, which is just over the margin needed to require an automatic recount.

In the lawsuit, Barger said he filed a petition for a hand recount to Evnen last Friday but was denied the request.

Instead, Evnen said the recount would be done by a vote-counting device on Thursday, according to court documents.

Barger then filed the lawsuit, hoping a court would force the state to do a hand recount of the legislative race.

Barger’s lawyer, David Begley, has asked the court to make a decision by Dec. 20.

“The Secretary of State is required to certify the election results by December 20. His interpretation of the relevant statute renders many parts of the statute meaningless,” Barger said in a press release. “Clarification of the rights of candidates is important for this race and future races. An election contest lawsuit should not be necessary to secure a hand count. But that will be the only possibility for a hand count, if the court adopts the Secretary of State’s interpretation.”

Dungan and Nebraska Democratic Chairwoman Jane Kleeb released a statement Wednesday expressing their faith in the state’s election system.

I have complete faith in both our elections and the systems that we currently have in place to count ballots,” Dungan said. “By initiating legal action to require a recount by hand, Mr. Barger is simply furthering election conspiracy theories that have no place in Nebraska.”

Kleeb said the Democratic Party “believes” in the work of state election officials.

“The attempts of Republicans who lost their race to now litigate the issues using trumped-up claims is yet another stain on their party going all in on conspiracy theories,” she said in the release.

On Monday, the Nebraska State Board of Canvassers met to certify the results of the Nov. 8 general election.

Nebraska’s 108th Legislature is scheduled to convene on Jan. 4.

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