3rd Georgia state House election yields same results

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Third time's a charm. At least that's what frustrated voters in one Georgia House district are hoping after two previous elections were thrown out by a judge.

Unofficial results on Tuesday showed Chris Erwin beating Dan Gasaway for a third time in the Republican primary for a state House seat in northeast Georgia.

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Results from Georgia's secretary of state showed Erwin receiving about 75 percent of over 6,000 votes cast. There is no Democrat in the race, so the winner takes the seat spanning Banks, Stephens and Habersham counties.

"It's kind of frustrating," Harold Scott said after casting his ballot for Erwin - the third time he had done so - at the First Baptist Church in Cornelia. "To spend the money three times to get a guy elected, it's kind of silly."

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The new vote came as Georgia continues to face scrutiny over its handling of the 2018 elections, during which voters reported a number of issues casting ballots - including long voter lines, malfunctioning voting machines and rejected absentee ballots.

Erwin appeared to defeat Gasaway twice before, first in the original primary last May and then in a redo Dec. 4. But Superior Court Judge David Sweat found illegal votes tainted both results and ordered new elections.

Gasaway challenged May's primary results in court after losing to Erwin by 67 votes. Sweat, a senior judge based outside the district, ruled mapping errors allowed some who didn't live in the district to vote.

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Erwin won again in December by just two votes, and was sworn in Jan. 14. But he was removed by a court order within a month, when Sweat threw out those results after finding that four voters cast illegal ballots - enough to have potentially tipped the race.

The cycle of elections and legal challenges left the district without a representative in the state House for much of the 2019 legislative session, which opened in January and ended last week.

Habersham County elections supervisor Laurel Ellison estimated the cost of the December do-over at about $5,800 and the cost of Tuesday's race at about $8,000.

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