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Hearing set for Ward II election challenge

Judge Joe Bishop will hear Melissa Strother's challenge at a hearing Friday morning.

— A judge will hear the legal challenge of the Ward II election results brought by candidate Melissa Strother Friday morning, officials say.

Judge Joe Bishop has set the hearing for 9 a.m. Friday morning at the Dougherty County Courthouse.

Candidate Melissa Strother has filed a legal challenge in Dougherty County Superior Court questioning the Ward II election based on a series of "irregularities" Strother contends has led to a questionable outcome.

That outcome led the city commission to swear in candidate Ivey Hines as the Ward II Commissioner Tuesday night, after he received the 50 percent-plus-one-vote majority needed to win the seat when elections officials nullified votes cast for candidate Cheryl Calhoun, who had been ruled ineligible as a candidate based on her residency.

The board of elections, through County Attorney Spencer Lee acknowledged during its November board meeting that a "mistake was made," that allowed Calhoun to qualify for the Ward II race despite the fact she lived in Ward I.

Elections officials contend that, despite that mistake, they followed the law in tossing any votes that had been cast for Calhoun. Had her votes been allowed to stand, Hines would NOT have had the majority needed to carry the seat and would've prompted a runoff between he and Strother.

After hearing Strother's case, Bishop could rule a number of ways including validating the election results which would keep Hines in Ward II seat or invalidating the results which would trigger a special election and declare the seat vacant until the election could be called.

Following an open records request from the Albany Herald, Dougherty County Elections officials have turned over a "statement of votes cast" that shows that as many as 116 people who voted in the general election and were eligible to cast a vote in the Ward II race, skipped that part of the ballot.

According to that document, a total of 1,478 people who lived in Ward II voted during the general election. Of that number, 1,362 cast votes in the Ward II race, meaning that 116 others who either went to the polls or voted absentee in Ward II failed to cast a vote in the Ward II race.

It's significant because the gap between Hines and Strother was only 45 votes, and, depending on how those 116 would've voted, could've changed the outcome of the election or allowed Hines to win the ward outright.

Comments

KaosinAlbany 2 years, 10 months ago

Go Melissa!!! I'm behind you 110%! Keep your head held high and don't let others try to knock you down. I am glad you are taking them to Court because the whole thing was just plain wrong and against 259 voters' civil rights.

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Cartman 2 years, 10 months ago

Simple case. The number of void votes > difference between the winning and losing candidates = invalid election. All due to a dysfunctional election board. The facts are not in dispute. It is strictly a case to be decided on legal argument.

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budcollier1956 2 years, 10 months ago

Nothing debates more willingly and loudly than ignorance and misinformation, nor most often than when given access to public media. The attorney rightfully stated an error was made, the Board rightfully followed the Georgia Election Code which specifically dictates how an injured party may seek relief, how votes are to be counted as well as how incomplete ballots are to be handled. In every way every process has been 100% open and transparent, all parties involved were offered unfettered access to obtain information and explanation and all were encouraged to avail themselves of the provisions of the law to contest the election, allow the independent court to decide and seek any relief available under the law. Many who have spoken the loudest, never asked for information. Some have misstated and used the situation for seemingly personal advancement. Georgia spent 5 billion on voting machines which in part were designed specifically to reduce the occurances of incomplete ballot casting, but even at that many voters either choose to not vote on an issue or cannot under any system cast a correct ballot, due to illiteracy or other reasons. No qualified voter is ever denied access, assistance or the right to vote. Before one makes devisive, irrational, inciteful and unfounded comments of violations of civil rights or dysfunctinally of some board, perhaps they should read the Georgia Election Code which is the rule estabilished by their GA State legislature, or the Albany Municipal Code established by their city commission, which rules in this case or perhaps they themselves should ask the questions necessary to understand the facts rather than spout opinion. The American system of law and process which, for every individual, both rules and protects, is working in this case as it was designed and intented to do. Why don't you positively participate and have faith in it, you just might learn something.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 10 months ago

Your statements are very untrue. Nickerson didn't want to give up that info at first but she had to according to the Sunshine Law. The GA Election code only applies to candidates who "withdraw" and not a candidate who is disqualified. I read it and it didn't apply to Mrs. Calhoun. This was a violation of civil rights and you know it. By the way, I have participated and did my part in the election so you are directing your ignorance to the WRONG person.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 10 months ago

BTW, how would you feel if your vote was just tossed out?

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