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Indiana’s District 71 state rep. race still too close to call as officials review provisional ballots

Jeffersonville City Council member Scott Hawkins is running for the District 71 seat in Indiana's House of Representatives.
Jeffersonville City Council member Scott Hawkins is running for the District 71 seat in Indiana's House of Representatives.

People living in Jeffersonville and parts of New Albany will have to wait a bit longer to find out who will represent them in the Indiana legislature.

The state representative race in District 71 is too close to call, according to Clark County Clerk Susan Popp.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Republican challenger Scott Hawkins — a high school teacher and Jeffersonville City Council member — led incumbent Democratic state Rep. Rita Fleming by 35 votes. More than 17,340 ballots were cast in the race.

“To me, it’s too early to tell on that race because it is so close,” Popp said. “As the county clerk, I can’t say those are the votes, they’re not going to change, Scott Hawkins is the winner. I’m not able to do that at this point.”

Hawkins said going into this election, he knew it would be a close race. He has claimed victory, despite the small margin.

“Unless someone gives me reasons not to, we believe we’ve won by 35 votes,” Hawkins said.

Fleming has yet to concede to Hawkins. She says she’s heard claims of voting irregularities at a polling location in New Albany.

Scanner issues at polling locations in Floyd County, where New Albany is located, led to long lines and delays early Tuesday.

The Floyd County Election Board released a statement later that morning stating the scanner issues had been resolved.

“It’s such a close race that obviously every vote counts, so we want to make sure that those people [who voted at polling places with reported scanner issues] have an opportunity to make their voices heard as well,” Fleming said.

The Floyd County Clerk’s office has not returned a request for comment from WFPL News.

In Clark County, officials have started a 10-day provisional ballot period. They will review ballots from people whose votes were not counted on Election Day, for reasons such as not having identification with them.

Popp said the process could bolster Hawkins' lead or change the outcome altogether.

“If there are 10 provisional ballots, the provisional ballots aren’t going to change the outcome of the race,” Popp said. “However, if there are like 70, that could change the outcome of the race.”

Even after the provisional ballot period, Popp said either candidate or their party can request a recount, which would further delay the confirmation of results.

Coverage of Southern Indiana is funded, in part, by Samtec, Inc. and the Hazel & Walter T. Bales Foundation.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.