Judge rules probate judge was 2 votes shy of overturning election results
LUDOWICI, Ga. - The FOX 5 I-Team has been covering election challenges across Georgia during the past year.
Now, in Long County, a judge has ruled that there wasn’t enough evidence of fraudulent votes to overturn a probate judge election.
The lawyer for the winning candidate says there is a lesson to be learned from the judge’s ruling about election challenges across the country.
"I don't think there is a lot of intentional fraud going on," said Luke Moses, attorney for the winning judge.
Moses says a recent challenge to a local election in Long County Georgia may well be a microcosm of election attacks on votes cast all across America.
"If an 'I' is not dotted exactly how they want it to be or a 'T' is not crossed exactly how they want it to be, they want to throw it out, they want to get rid of your vote," said Moses.
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Moses represented Teresa Odum, who won the Long County Probate judge election by nine votes back in June of this year. The incumbent, Judge Bobby Smith, sued, challenging the results, claiming people voted twice, absentee ballots were flawed, and people outside the county voted.
"I believe that we did everything to the best of our ability and accidents and mistakes happen. We're human," said Elections Supervisor Trynina Harris.
During testimony, Harris admitted mistakes were made and some people voted twice.
"I'm pretty sure that they watch the news and know that all around Georgia it wasn't done correctly either," said Harris.
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During the hearing which lasted for days, and involved direct testimony of 29 voters, Judge John Morse found that seven people voted improperly. Smith needed only two more improper votes to overturn the election.
But, after reviewing all the documentation, Judge Morse ruled there wasn't enough evidence to throw out any additional votes.
"We're just relieved," Moses said.
I-Team: Secretary of State finds most double votes in metro area but no widespread voting fraud
Judge Bobby Smith's attorney, Jake Evans, issued a statement saying they were "disappointed and surprised by the Order" and called it "erroneous" and that it "eviscerates electoral protections" because the order and claimed the ballot mistakes made "exceeded the election's margin of victory."
Moses says his client conceded there were double votes and one outside the county vote but not enough to overturn the razor-thin, nine-vote election victory.
Moses says when 29 sworn witnesses testified their vote - though perhaps flawed in some way - was the vote they wanted to cast, he can't help but believe voter fraud is rare.
"I think it is a problem that is overblown and is exaggerated by a certain partisan political element and I think the reason they do that is because if they don't like the outcome of a race," said Moses.
Evans says his client is considering available options and only wants all candidates and voters to have fair elections in Georgia.
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