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Ward II decision may come in January

Elections board member Commodore Conyers answers a question from Joe Judge Bishop Friday.

Elections board member Commodore Conyers answers a question from Joe Judge Bishop Friday.

ALBANY — After a day-long hearing, Superior Court Judge Joe Bishop said Friday that a decision on whether the Ward II municipal election results will stand likely won’t come until after the Christmas holidays.

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Melissa Strother

Candidate Melissa Strother filed suit against Albany-Dougherty Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson and Ward II Candidate Ivey Hines challenging the election results after she contends irregularities developed in the race following the elections board’s decision to disqualify candidate Cheryl Calhoun.

“I thought it went well,” Strother said after court adjourned. “... We’re just asking that the votes not be voided and thrown out and that we be able to have a fair and honest election. We’ll anxiously be awaiting the judge’s decision.”

Friday, Strother’s attorney, Bo Dorough, squared off against City Attorney Nathan Davis, Dougherty County Attorney Spencer Lee and Ivey Hines’ attorney, Maurice King, in an effort to convince Bishop — the chief superior court judge of the Pataula Judicial Circuit — why he should invalidate the results of the Nov. 8 special Ward II election.

If Bishop invalidates the election, a second, special-called election could be called for as early as March 7. If he upholds the results, Hines will remain as the city commissioner from Ward II until 2013.

Throughout the day, both sides called witnesses to testify, including campaign workers, voters, poll workers and managers.

Nickerson was called to testify on three separate occasions throughout the day about various aspects of the election.

One of the central points of Strother’s argument is that poll workers failed to adhere to the state law that requires signs saying Calhoun was disqualified to be displayed prominently in the precincts.

Three different campaign workers hired by Strother to man the areas around the precincts on election day testified that they had gone into several of the four Ward II precincts that day and none had noticed the lime-green sign.

Anne Mitchell, who voiced her own problems with the elections office due to her son supposedly not being registered to vote on election day but then receiving a jury summons the following day, testified she also did not see a sign at her polling place on election day.

Davis, Lee and King countered by calling three poll managers to the stand.

The managers, each responsible for the operations of a precinct on election day, said that Nickerson had told each of them the night before to put the green signs up and that they each did, albeit in different places such as on the registration table, on a wall and on a bulletin board with sample ballots.

Election board members Allen Pendleton and Commodore Conyers were also called to the stand to testify. Board Chair Walter Blankenship and board member Lonzi Smith sat in the audience, but were not called to testify.

The two board members each explained that they had either placed the green signs up at various precincts they had been assigned, or had personally seen them up.

At the end of the day, Dorough asked to be allowed to submit his final statements after having a copy of the transcript of Friday’s hearing prepared — which would likely take until the end of next week, according to the court reporter — after which time he and the other attorneys will submit their final briefs.