ALBANY — Members of the Dougherty County Elections Board have officially certified the votes cast in the Nov. 8 general and special elections, a move that will likely trigger legal action from at least one candidate.
Four of the five members of the board signed the “Consolidated Municipal/County Certification of Returns” for both the Ward II Special Election and the General Election.
By signing the documents, members of the board certify that “the attached election summary is a true and correct count of the votes cast in this city/county.”
The move will likely trigger an official legal contest from Ward II candidate Melissa Strother who is challenging the election results on the grounds of what she says are irregularities stemming from the way the elections office handled the qualification and subsequent disqualification of candidate Cheryl Calhoun.
According to the official election results published Tuesday, Ward II Candidate Ivey Hines finished the race with 568 votes to Strother’s 523 votes giving him a 51.5 percent majority of the votes cast and, according to the elections board, making him the winner of the race.
But Hines only has the simple majority needed to win the race because Calhoun’s 247 votes were voided after the Elections Board ruled Calhoun was ineligible to be a candidate in Ward II. In a bizarre set of events, Calhoun originally attempted to register to run in ward I but was told by elections officials that she resided in Ward II. Her candidacy was challenged and officials determined her residency was, in fact, in Ward I.
Calhoun’s name, however, already appeared on early ballots and also appeared on ballots on election day.
Strother is asking that the Ward II commission seat be placed on the ballot for the Dec. 6 municipal runoff that includes the mayor’s race and the Ward VI City Commission race.
The City Commission, which had planned to swear in the winner of the Ward II race Tuesday, took that item off the agenda after learning the results wouldn’t be certified until after its Tuesday morning work session.
Albany Mayor Willie Adams said Tuesday that he’s been following the events involving Strother, Hines and Calhoun, and that the commission intends to swear in Hines at its Nov. 22 meeting.
Ward II currently has no representative on the commission. Dorothy Hubbard was required to resign as commissioner for the ward when she qualified to run for mayor. She faces B.J. Fletcher in the Dec. 6 runoff election.
In a statement Tuesday night, Hubbard said, “This is a unique situation to be resolved through the legal process. I imagine in the history of elections similar situations have occurred. ... As former commissioner of Ward II, I wish only for a swift and just resolution. Our constituents of Ward II have been without representation since August 30th. I have built relationships with the citizens in this, the most diverse ward in Albany. It is a microcosm of the city with all kinds of people — young/old, retired, international, black, white, male/female, all economic statuses and both sides of the river.
“We have to let the legal process take its course for the benefit of the entire city. Let us all be in agreement on that.”
Late Tuesday evening, Fletcher's campaign announced in an email that both she and Hubbard have asked to speak to the Elections Board at its meeting set for 4 p.m. today at the Government Center, 222 Pine Ave.