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Strother likely will contest Ward II results

It's unlikely that the commission will swear in Ivey Hines during its Tuesday meeting.

ALBANY — After consulting with state elections officials, Albany election officials have voided votes cast for Cheryl Calhoun in the Ward II election Tuesday, and declared the Rev. Ivey Hines the apparent winner.

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Ivey Hines and Melissa Strother

The vote won’t be official until next Tuesday when the unofficial results are certified by the Dougherty County Elections Board.

Melissa Strother, a candidate in the Ward II race, said Wednesday that her campaign would contest the election if a runoff was not called. After consulting with the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson tossed 247 votes cast for Cheryl Calhoun and stripped them from the voting totals, giving Hines 51.4 percent of the remaining votes and Strother, 47.5 percent.

Strother, who met with Nickerson Wednesday morning, and her campaign manager Kilena Underwood said they have taken issue with the fact that Calhoun’s name wasn’t removed from the ballot when she was disqualified from running, and believe that Tuesday’s results should be voided and a new election called and held on the same day as the Mayoral runoff Dec. 6.

“That’s seems like the most fair thing to do for everyone involved,” Underwood said.

Campaign officials for Strother say that they’re prepared to take additional steps if results of the race stand.

“We’ve got a lawyer and if things don’t change we’re prepared to take additional steps, which, in all likelihood would mean filing a formal complaint and challenging the election,” Underwood said.

Those efforts to challenge the election may be thwarted, however, by the city commission which had intended on swearing in the winner of Tuesday’s Ward II race as early as Tuesday, city clerk Sonya Tolbert said.

City Attorney Nathan Davis says that as soon as the votes are certified by the election board, the commission will swear-in Hines.

“Ward II has been without representation now for quite some time so I think that the powers that be will swear in the winner of that race as soon as possible,” Davis said.

Because that race was technically a special election to fill a seat that had been vacated on the commission, the board of commissioners would normally swear in the winning candidate immediately, where as the winners of the other races won’t be sworn in until January.

While that may end up being on the commission’s Tuesday agenda, elections officials say that the results of the election won’t be certified until Tuesday at noon, which would be after the commission meets at 8:30 a.m.

Calhoun was disqualified as a candidate based on her residency. She was initially allowed to qualify as a candidate because of an error that resulted in her being listed in the voter registration database as residing in Ward II.

Under Georgia law, Strother can contest the election itself in Dougherty County Superior Court on the grounds of “misconduct, fraud, or irregularity by any primary or election official or officials sufficient to change or place in doubt the result.”

Looking at the total number of votes cast during Tuesday’s election, 192 people voted at the precincts in Ward II for Calhoun despite the fact that signs had been put up saying that she was not a valid candidate. Another 49 voted for her during the Early Voting period while six mailed in absentee ballots for her. In total, Calhoun picked up more than 18.5 percent of the total votes cast in the race.

A look at the precinct-by-precinct breakdown shows Hines took a majority of the votes at Jackson Heights Elementary Precinct, 60.3 percent, and Albany Middle School Precinct, 55.1 percent.

Strother carried the majority in the Palmyra Road Methodist Church Precinct, 65.7 percent.

Comments

KaosinAlbany 2 years, 5 months ago

The Ward 2 race was a total sham. It should have been started over when Cheryl was disqualified and her name taken off the ballot. Was there prominent notices in place at the polls in Ward 2 that Cheryl was disqualified? If not then the elections office didn't go by the code section quoted above.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 5 months ago

Never mind, I read the rest of the article and it stated that there were signs posted, but a lot of people probably didn't read them to begin with. Cheryl should have not remained on the ballot, PERIOD! I hope Strother sues the heck out of Dougherty County for their shenanigans at the elections office.

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shredex3 2 years, 5 months ago

Please! For once, do what is the right thing to do. Show the community and "others" watching (industry looking to come here, if any) that Albany has competent people running the departments around here. PLEASE, I am begging.

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gwilliams 2 years, 5 months ago

OMG!!!Strother stop being a sore loser and better luck next time.Hines won out right and it does not matter if Cheryl name was on or off the ballot.These peoples voted for Cheryl and it is obvious that they did not want to vote for you or Hines.

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Sally_O 2 years, 5 months ago

I bet if it was the other way around and Strother won, you would support Hines contesting the outcome. If you say you wouldn't you're a liar.

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bubbavet 2 years, 5 months ago

"NO BRAINER". SHE IS A LIAR.

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billstrickland 2 years, 5 months ago

Nonsense. Nobody got more than 50 percent of the vote. And you can't logically put a candidate whose name is officially printed on the official ballot on the same level as submitting your Aunt Sally as a write-in. The votes as cast do not guarantee that the actual voters who checked Calhoun's name would have split evenly for Hines and Strother or would have fully voted for one or the other of them if Calhoun's name had been omitted, as it should have been. To just assume Hines is the "outright" winner will tell the world we don't know how to run an election, it will tell the candidates the position they seek isn't serious enough to fill it cleanly, and it will tell a few hundred registered voters that their good-faith trip to the polls to exercise their rights as American citizens didn't actually mean anything at all.

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Jack_Frost 2 years, 5 months ago

The signs about Calhoun were placed in such prominent spots as on an exit door to a precinct in one case, and on a church bulletin board (littered with other stuff as well) in another. All places folks going into a precinct wouldn't notice. Sorry, but whether Ward II wants Strother or Hines, they need a correct election to get it right.
The City Commission's plan to swear in whoever immediately is hardly surprising though. After all, why would THEY want proper elections? Absolutely pathetic. THIS is a good chunk of the reason people move away as soon as they're able.

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TrixibelleBento 2 years, 5 months ago

What is everyone afraid of--put it back on the ballot December 6th since we already have run-off elections that day anyway. The race was already so close. Let the Calhoun voters choose who they want. I don't buy that explanation by Hines that people were making a statement by voting for her. The persons were likely uninformed and didn't see the signs. Were the signs in each voting booth? If they weren't, then people probably didn't see or read them.

Let's be fair. Their margin was much less than the other races that have run-offs. There was confusion during the process; that should be a slam-dunk reason to hold another election.

Another month is not going to hurt anyone. Have the Ward 2 folks call the other Commissioners in the meantime if they have a pressing issue.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 5 months ago

When My husband talked to Nickerson and asked her what would happen to the early votes and absentee votes she stated she was going to resend those voters a new ballot. She evidently didn't live up to her word. Melissa is NOT a sore loser. She is concerned that those who voted for Cheryl were not treated fairly and it also isn't fair to Mr. Hines or her. The ward 2 race should have been started over once they found out Cheryl lives in Ward 1. That would have been the fair thing to do for everyone involved. How would you feel if your vote was tossed and didn't have an opportunity to recast your vote? It is our right as American citizens to vote. This town is taking away our civil liberties one by one and seems more like a dictatorship IMHO. People stand up for yourselves for once and let the city know we are their bosses, not them.

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shredex3 2 years, 5 months ago

I think it is time to get involved and show up to these commission meetings along with the school board meetings. I think it will be worth the time and let's put a stop to this BS corruption that is taking over our city.

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