(Franklin) — Incumbent Heard County District 5 Commissioner Sandi Allen filed official papers in Heard County Superior Court this week contesting the outcome of last week’s election where she lost her commission seat by just one vote.
The winner of the Republican primary, Joe Adams, received 111 votes in the election while Allen received 102 votes and distant third place finisher Yvette Abrahamson received eight votes. These results meant that Adams avoided a run-off election and captured the seat by just one vote. In a primary election, a candidate is required to collect greater than 50 percent of the votes to avoid a runoff.
According to both Allen and Adams, they were each notified by Heard County Probate Judge and election superintendent Joseph Bledsoe the day after the election to discuss a provisional ballot which had been cast by a voter in the Southwest precinct at the Glenn fire station on election day morning.
Allen stated that the two candidates met in person with Bledsoe at his office on Thursday afternoon May 22.
Bledsoe indicated to the two candidates that a voter had arrived at the Southwest precinct at Glenn during the early morning on election day and was advised by poll workers that his new voting precinct had been changed to Franklin.
Allegedly the voter stated that he was on his way to work and would be unable to make it to Franklin to vote that day so as a result, poll workers in Glenn gave him a paper ballot so that he could vote provisionally.
The problem occurred when the man was mistakenly given a ballot from District 3 rather than District 5.
“If Joe had two or three more votes then that provisional ballot wouldn’t have mattered but by it being one vote that could sway the election one way or another I decided to contest it,” said Allen. “I just want it to be a fair election.”
Allen said she had no plans to contest the election prior to the meeting with Bledsoe. “I had reconciled the fact that I just lost to Joe by one vote,” Allen stated.
Joe Adams believes the man should not have been given the provisional ballot in the first place.
“The law states that if the man had plenty of time to go to his own precinct then he has to that,” said Joe Adams. “Legally they didn’t have to give him a ballot at all they were just being nice by giving him a provisional ballot.”
Adams stated that he was declared the official winner of the race by Bledsoe on Friday, May 23.
Joe Adams and Sandi Allen have differing opinions on whether or not the voter notified poll workers at the time that he had been given the wrong ballot.
Allen claims that the man told poll workers that the person he wanted to vote for was not on the ballot he was given.
According to Joe Adams, the man never complained about his ballot that morning. (UPDATE: Sandi Allen contacted HeardCitizen.com Friday morning to clarify that Tonnie Adams did advise her that the man did not say anything at the polls and she had been misinformed)
Heard County Voter Registrar Tonnie Adams said that to his knowledge the man never complained that morning and that he first determined the man had been given the wrong ballot later that morning when he visited that precinct.
“If you go by the State Election board rules, the poll worker could have refused to allow him to vote at the southwest precinct because he did have ample time to go to another precinct,” said Tonnie Adams. “But we do teach them (poll workers) in training that in the interest of the right to vote, if a voter is adamant about not going to vote then we try to allow them to vote a provisional ballot.”
According to the Clerk of Superior Court Bryan Owensby, a judge must be selected from outside the circuit to make a decision. As of Thursday afternoon, a judge was yet to be appointed to hear the case. Papers were officially served this week to the Georgia Secretary of State, Bledsoe, Joe Adams, and Yvette Abrahamson informing them of the matter.
Stay tuned to HeardCitizen.com for further information on this breaking story as it becomes available.