Lane Price and Lorenzo Heard
ALBANY, Ga. — Lane Price and Lorenzo Heard — along with the rest of Dougherty County — will have to wait until Friday, Nov. 9 — three days after election day — to learn who the winner of the highly-contested race will be, election officials say.
A memo sent from the Georgia Secretary of State's Office to county registrars and election officials across the state instructs them not to tabulate the results of write-in races until after both the touchscreen results and all of the paper ballots have been received.
"Please remember, write-in candidate reports should not be generated until after you have uploaded all valid provisional ballots and have counted all (military) ballots that have been timely received and postmarked no later than Election Day," the memo states.
The memo goes on to state that "you will need to combine the number of votes for each valid write-in candidate cast of optical scan ballots (paper ballots) with those cast on touchscreen ballots because the ... generated report only provides the vote total of those cast on the touchscreen units. (It) does not add the total votes for write-in candidates cast through the optical scan units to those cast on the touchscreen."
Dougherty County Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson says the message from the state to her office is clear: on write-in races, you must wait until Friday for the mailed-out ballots to be received so you can tabulate them with the touchscreen results.
"You don't have a tally for the touchscreen results and the (paper ballots)," Nickerson said. "Those will have to be combined by hand and the law allows for a couple of days for those ballots that were postmarked by election day to be received."
Nickerson said that, as of Wednesday, 1,331 paper ballots had been mailed out.
Price and Heard are engaged a race for the Dougherty County School Board's at-large seat. Price beat incumbent Anita Williams-Brown in the July Democratic Primary.
Shortly after the primary, Heard attempted to qualify as an independent candidate on the Nov. 6 ballot, but the Dougherty County Elections Board ruled he was ineligible to be included on the ballot because of failures to provide the requisite number of signed petitions and to submit an affidavit of candidacy.
Heard sued to appeal the board's decision in Dougherty Superior Court, but he announced this week he was dropping to focus on his write-in campaign.
As a write-in candidate, Heard's name won't appear on the ballot, but a voter can write in his name in the race.