A Hall County candidate’s complaint against the Board of Elections was dismissed Monday by a Winder judge because it was filed after the deadline.
Eugene Moon, who in the July primary challenged Billy Powell for his District 2 post on the Hall County Board of Commissioners, asked that the results of that election be thrown out and a second vote be held.
Judge Robert W. Adamson dismissed the case at a morning hearing because Moon filed his petition more than five days after the vote was certified Aug. 3.
“The court’s ruling had nothing to do with the merits in this case,” Adamson said after the ruling.
Moon’s petition was filed on Aug. 10, according to Moon’s lawyer, Dan Summer.
Under Georgia’s election statutes, those complaints must be filed within five days of the vote’s certification.
Moon did not return phone messages left Monday.
Summer said the ruling was “unfortunate,” but it may not be a total loss.
“It’s unfortunate because I think the petition had merit,” Summer said. “There’s obviously some issues that need to be firmed up with the board of elections. Maybe it’s a proverbial warning shot across of the bow. Maybe they’ll revisit their issues and policies and procedures.”
The complaint stemmed from Moon’s belief that voters may have voted in the wrong district.
The results tabulated by the Hall County Elections Office left Powell with 51.6 percent of the vote and Moon with 48.4 percent, a difference of just 235 votes.
In an election for the District 4 post, Jeff Stowe defeated incumbent Ashley Bell with 57.6 percent of the vote.
Moon’s suit included sworn statements from four voters who say they believe the wrong district lines were used.
One voter who said he is a Gillsville resident said he voted in the District 4 primary.
“It does raise a concern about how this did happen,” Adamson said. “Procedures need to be tightened and need to be changed.”
Adamson said if, in fact, that issue is rooted in truth, then “you have the making for a significant problem.”
Charlotte Sosebee, county director of elections, declined comment on the court’s ruling, but said voters are encouraged to ask for clarifications if they have any questions regarding districting.
“If a voter feels they are placed in a district incorrectly, they are encouraged to call our office and have us check for accuracy,” Sosebee wrote in an email.
Ron Bennett, who represented the board of elections, could not be reached for comment Monday.
Powell, who will continue as the District 2 commissioner, said he “wasn’t trying to let (the lawsuit) bother (him).”
“It followed the legal process and the judge followed the letter of the law to make his ruling,” Powell said. “I’m pleased with the results and ready for us to move on.”
Summer said he believes there were many voters — outside of the four who were part of Moon’s suit — who voted under the wrong district’s banner, and although the court process may be over, the Department of Justice should look into the matter.
“Whether they look at it, I don’t know, but they should,” he said. “I think there was a large number of folks who voted for individuals not in their districts, and that’s a problem.”
Moon will be responsible to pay the county’s legal fees, slated at $2,475.