Georgia judge orders election rerun over ballot concerns

By Sommer Brokaw

Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Republicans and Democrats are calling primary elections into question in Georgia over alleged errors.

Incumbent Georgia Rep. Dan Gasaway challenged the legitimacy of the GOP primary he lost by 67 votes in May and a judge has now ordered a rerun.


Gasaway initially conceded a loss to businessman Chris Erwin but challenged the vote after a friend said his name was not on the ballot in some places. He later examined voter rolls and filed a lawsuit saying "cross-contamination" led to at least 67 people to vote in the wrong district.

Judge David Sweat ruled Tuesday a new election is required because it's unknown who voters assigned to the wrong district would have voted for.

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"The court's real concern is that people have confidence in our elections," Sweat said.

Gasaway said he felt vindicated by the judge's decision and will start campaigning again.

"We've worked on this for a very long time. It's important for voters to know that their votes matter," he said.

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The judge did not specify a date for the repeat election.

Habersham County Elections Supervisor Laurie Ellison said errors were caused by the county's redrawing of the district lines in recent years.


On the Democratic side, Sabrina McKenzie is suing for a new election after she lost by 111 votes in the May primary to state Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson.

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McKenzie says some people were allowed to vote after polls closed and some got the wrong ballot. She also questioned the number of provisional ballots counted.

McKenzie's suit names Dekalb County Board of Voter Registration and Elections, its director Erica Hampton, Henson and Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is in charge of overseeing the state's elections as defendants.

The defendants have all asked for the case to be dismissed, saying that McKenzie did not file her petition within the statute of limitations.

A hearing has not been set for the case and if it is not resolved by November, Henson will automatically win the election and return to the Senate since no Republican is running in the contest.

Amid these primary controversies, a judge ruled Monday night that Georgia voters will not use paper ballots in November -- despite hacking concerns -- and instead will continue using electronic voting machines.

The judge said hacking was "not an unfounded fear," but it's necessary to stick with electronic machines since lack of preparation for a paper system could result in greater confusion.


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