Lane Price, Democratic nominee for the Dougherty County School Board at-large seat, tell Dougherty County Kiwanis Club members Monday (Oct. 15, 2012) that the school system is broken and she wants to help fix it. She is being opposed by Lorenzo Heard, who is mounting a write-in campaign.
ALBANY, Ga. -- Now, finally, the Albany/Dougherty Board of Registration and Elections and the Elections Office staff can put the 2012 at-large School Board race to rest.
After meticulously going over every single write-in vote cast in the Nov. 6 election with her staff, Elections Superviser Ginger Nickerson presented the 7,899 write-in votes to the Elections Board Monday and Wednesday. On Thursday, Nickerson officially tallied the final count: Democratic Primary winner Lane Price 27,114 votes and write-in challenger the Rev. Lorenzo Heard 7,690.
"I'd say, overall our folks did an excellent job," Nickerson told the Elections Board at its monthly meeting Wednesday. "We had more than 38,000 votes cast, and my office received only three complaints. Our goal is zero complaints, but only three complaints in an election of that magnitude is pretty good."
The 38,017 votes cast in the county represent a 70.07 percent turnout, down slightly from the 73-plus percent turnout for the 2008 election.
And while there was the expected interest in the presidential showdown that saw Barack Obama defeat Mitt Romney to gain a second term in office, the Dougherty School Board race between Price and Heard dominated local election news. The final tally brought closure to what was one of the most intriguing and compelling election stories in Albany and Dougherty County's history.
Price's supporters thought she had won outright the School Board seat previously held by Anita Williams-Brown when Price scored a resounding 2,000-vote win in the Democratic Primary. But on the final day to qualify as an independent candidate, a process that requires the collection of signatures of 5 percent of the county's registered voters, Heard sent Dougherty County Commissioner-elect Clinton Johnson to the Elections office with a copy of the paperwork candidates are required to complete.
The Elections office rejected the application because it was a copy, and it announced that Heard had failed to collect the required number of signatures needed to get on the ballot. Heard sued the board but dropped the suit two days into deliberations. He then filed notice that he would run as a write-in candidate, setting up the showdown with Price that was nowhere near as close as many observers had expected.
In a breakdown provided by the Elections office, write-in votes (the overwhelming majority of which went to Heard) surpassed the votes received by Price in only one of the county's 28 precincts, Jackson Heights Elementary. There were 725 write-in votes to Price's 701 at Jackson Heights. Price received 80 percent or more of the total votes cast in 12 precincts and received 77.44 percent of the overall votes cast.
In the presidential election, Democrat Obama received 69.24 percent of the county's votes, outpolling Republican Romney 26,295 to 11,449.