Election Commission To Make District 9 Runoff Decision Next Wednesday, But Case Likely To Go To Court

Thursday, March 07, 2013

The Hamilton County Election Commission will make a decision next Wednesday morning on whether or not there will be a runoff election for the close City Council District 9 race. However, commission members said the matter may ultimately be decided by a local chancellor.

Both Councilman Peter Murphy and former Councilman Yusuf Hakeem had lawyers by their sides at an emergency session of the Election Commission on Wednesday morning. Councilman Murphy was with Stuart James and Mr. Hakeem with Hal North.

The commission discussed the issue, but took no vote because of concerns there was not enough notification to the public under the state Sunshine Law. The meeting was called with less than 24 hours notice.

Mr. Hakeem got six more votes than the incumbent. However, there were seven write-in votes so that Mr. Hakeem did not get over 50 percent. They were the only candidates.

After the meeting, with both candidates and their attorneys present, the seven write-in votes were examined. None of them was for either of the two candidates.

The write-in votes were for Andrae McGary, Moses Freeman, Melanie Collins, J.J. and Michael Dewayne Davenport. Two people chose write-in, but did not write in a name.

Chairman Mike Walden said the office has been advised by state election officials that write-in votes - unless they are for an approved write-in candidate - are not supposed to be considered or reported.

He said, "We are the only one out of 95 counties reporting write-in votes."

Mr. Walden said a part of the problem involves conflicts within the city charter. He said, "The irony is that there was an item on the ballot cleaning up some parts of the city charter, but they left in an 1800s provision about elections. The city charter is an embarrassment. It's simply terrible."

Hamilton County uses paper ballots that are run through a vote counting machine. There is a spot on the ballot for write-ins. However, in this election there were no approved write-in candidates.

Commissioner Jerry Summers, an attorney who is the former election panel lawyer, said during the meeting that the search of the seven write-ins "will show whether they voted for Councilman Murphy, Mr. Hakeem, Donald Duck, Donald Trump or whoever."

He said, "A lot of old time folks may not trust voting machines" and may want to write in their choices.

He noted that the city charter has conflicts on the issue with one section requiring a candidate to get over 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff. If the write-in ballots are counted, Mr. Hakeem got 49.8 percent of the vote, and that is the way the election office reported the results.

Mr. Walden said, "Anybody can write in a name, but we rely on the ones who are on the ballot. No one met the requirement to be a write-in candidate."

Chris Clem, the current Election Commission attorney, said during the meeting, "Let's see what the seven ballots show. I think that will clear up a lot."

Nathan Foster, a programmer at the election office, said it is his opinion that the seven write-ins "are irrelevant" and the only votes that should be counted are for "the two candidates on the ballot."

If a runoff is held, it will be April 9. The only other runoff is for City Council District 4 between Jack Benson and Larry Grohn.

 

 


PHOTOS: Funeral Of Luther Masingill

For video by Ben Cagle click here , here and here . (click for more)

Barbara Sue Perdue Greer Charged With Coercion Of A Witness

Barbara Sue Perdue Greer has been arrested for coercion of a witness. Members of the Bradley County Sheriff’s Department’s Criminal Investigation Division filed the charge and took Ms. Greer, 40, of Cohulla Road, Southeast, into custody.  Reports indicate Ms. Greer is a defendant in a pending case, and her actions toward a witness in that case led to the charge.  ... (click for more)

Tom Dugan Was A Good Man

Tom was my boss for most of my 36 years at Carta.  At the ceremony where I was awarded my 30-year service award, Tom said, "Don disagrees with 85% of my decisions, but I wish I had 80 more employees just like him." This kind of indicates our relationship. When I asked him to help with my plans for a reunion for the group of Veterans that I served with in Vietnam, he quickly ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Veterinarian’s Horse Sense

I suspect you’ve heard by now that a doctor in New York City, who volunteers with “Doctors Without Borders,” just got back from the African nation of Guinea on October 17 – last Friday – and on Thursday tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus. Luckily, he came in actual contact with only a few people but he reportedly rode a subway, took a taxi, went on a three-mile run and ... (click for more)

Freeman-Led Owls Whip Cleveland, 30-14, To Win 5-AAA Title

Junior Rashun Freeman's stunning versatility stole the show Friday night. Freeman caught a touchdown pass, returned a punt for a second score and had one of three Ooltewah interceptions as the fourth-ranked Owls whipped Cleveland, 30-14, to win the District 5-AAA championship in front of a near-capacity crowd at James N. Monroe Stadium. “I practice hard and that shows ... (click for more)

Daoust Dashes For 251 Yards As Rhea Defeats East Hamilton, 42-14

Zach Daoust gained 251 yards and scored one of Rhea County’s six rushing touchdowns and the Golden Eagles pulled away with a strong fourth quarter to defeat East Hamilton’s Hurricanes, 42-14, in a non-district football game at East Hamilton High. The Hurricanes fell to 2-7 overall while losing for the fifth time in six games. East Hamilton concludes its season at Bradley Central ... (click for more)