ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

clear-day
68°
Mostly Clear
H 66° L 41°
  • clear-day
    68°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Clear. H 66° L 41°
  • clear-day
    66°
    Today
    Mostly Clear. H 66° L 41°
  • clear-day
    69°
    Tomorrow
    Clear. H 69° L 44°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb news on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

News
Atlanta mayoral election results certified, but legal challenge looms
Close

Atlanta mayoral election results certified, but legal challenge looms

Atlanta mayoral election results certified, but legal challenge looms
Former mayoral candidate Mary Norwood and her lawyer Vincent Russo (left) confer as they review the recount result at the Fulton County Elections Preparation Center on Dec. 14. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Atlanta mayoral election results certified, but legal challenge looms

The Fulton County election board’s vice chairman abstained from voting to re-certify results from the Atlanta mayor’s race on Saturday, arguing that the board hadn’t adequately addressed questions about the validity of votes from recently annexed areas of the city.

The meeting of Fulton County election board that re-certified Kiesha Lance Bottoms as Atlanta mayor-elect further muddied a contentious election that appeared to be on the brink of a drawn-out court battle.

The board’s attorney did not attend, and members struggled to make sense of complicated legal matters, prompting an admonition from a City of Atlanta deputy clerk for the board to meet in private “in anticipation of legal action.”

“We have public comments that there have been irregularities,” said David J. Burge, one of two Republicans on the board. “I think it behooves this board to very clearly demonstrate that this was done right. We are meeting at an odd time, without our lawyers.”

But the votes from the annexed areas aren’t the only concern. The competence, or lack thereof, of the local post office may also play a role in any challenge from Mary Norwood, the candidate whom Bottoms defeated.

On Saturday, the board’s executive director, Rick Barron, said in an interview the board received a number of absentee ballots that were not counted because they arrived after the Dec. 1 deadline. Barron did not know how many.

Barron blamed chronic problems with Atlanta’s post office and noted that last week Atlanta’s postmaster was replaced.

Norwood’s attorney, Vincent Russo, first learned of the issue from a reporter.

“This is the first we’ve heard about it,” Russo said. “I don’t know why they wouldn’t have notified people about this issue and tried to get a court to accept them.”

An official recount on Thursday requested by Norwood gave her an additional five votes and subtracted six from Bottoms. But Bottoms was still more than 800 votes ahead of Norwood in the race.

In the days after the runoff, Norwood’s campaign announced it was investigating reports of irregularities at the polls.

Last week, Russo argued that people in five recently annexed areas of Atlanta should not have been allowed to vote in the election. He argued that recent Georgia Supreme Court decision, along with a state Supreme Court transfer order issued days before the election, invalidated the ordinances establishing the annexations.

The areas are all located in southwest Atlanta, a part of town that Bottoms won.

The largest of the areas is Loch Lomond, which according to the city, has nearly 700 people. On Saturday, election board registration chief Ralph Jones, said roughly 400 hundred registered voters live in the area and that the board was still determining how many people in Loch Lomond voted in the mayor’s race.

In the summer of 2016, the city passed ordinances annexing areas in south Fulton County. The annexations prompted two lawsuits.

In one of those, the State Supreme Court in June upheld a state law incorporating the City of South Fulton and said that in order to comply with that law Atlanta’s annexations should have occurred before July 1, 2016. Therefore, the annexations were invalid.

Last month, the state’s highest court declined to take up a lawsuit challenging the Loch Lomond annexation because it had already decided the issues involving the case. In a Nov. 29 transfer order, the court said in light of its recent decision, the appeals court now had jurisdiction.

On Saturday, the board did not explain why its lawyer did not attend. Election Board Chairman Mary Carol Cooney did say that the board’s attorneys were not yet ready to opine on the Loch Lomond issue.

Barron said that his staff put Loch Lomond within Atlanta’s boundaries at the direction of the city, on whose behalf Fulton County had conducted the election.

Forest Webb, Atlanta’s deputy city clerk, urged the board to stop openly discussing the matter.

Legal action looms

The City of Atlanta has hired Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, of the Lawrence-Bundy law firm to represent it in the event of a lawsuit challenging the election results. According to a city spokesperson, Lawrence-Hardy worked on the team that represented Al Gore during the 2000 presidential election.

Norwood hasn’t said if she will sue.

State law allows a candidate to contest the result of a race in the event of irregularities, fraud and counting errors, along with other instances.

A court can only order a new election if the irregularities were so significant “as to place in doubt the result of the entire primary, election or runoff.”

Norwood has five days to contest the election results.

This is the second narrow mayor’s race that Norwood has lost.

After she lost the 2009 mayor’s race by 714 votes, Norwood, a self-described “progressive independent” convinced the Republican Party to appoint her to the Fulton County Board of Elections and Registration, according to an audio recording from a talk Norwood gave to a group of young Republicans in Buckhead earlier this year.

On that recording, Norwood accuses Reed’s 2009 campaign of voter manipulation — an allegation that prompted Reed to threaten to sue — and takes partial credit for hiring Barron.

“And he is a consummate professional,” Norwood said, according to the recording. “I mean this guy is really good. He is so good that some people at city hall tried to get him fired about a year ago.”

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

News

  • Authorities have declined to press criminal charges against anyone in the 2016 overdose death of musical icon Prince, saying Thursday that investigators were unable to determine where the artist got the fentanyl that killed him. >> Read more trending news >> READ MORE: Charges could be announced in Prince opioid investigation two years after his death | Prince died of fentanyl overdose, autopsy report released | Search warrants unsealed in Prince death investigation | Photos: Prince through the years | MORE
  • Atlanta police are working to identify a woman found dead near Interstate 75/85 and Langford Parkway in southeast Atlanta. Channel 2 Action News there as police tried to figure out how the woman got there. We're talking to investigators as they try to figure out what happened for Channel 2 Action News starting at 4 p.m. A family will receive some tough news today when the medical examiner finally identifies a woman found dead on the side of an interstate at 2am. I'll have the lates at Noon on Ch2 pic.twitter.com/JY3wgM4ZIi — Tyisha Fernandes (@TyishaWSB) April 19, 2018 Atlanta police said officers responded to a report of a person down call just before 2 a.m. Thursday.  When officers got there, they met with two drivers who said they had seen someone having trouble walking in the road and pulled over to help them. They said the woman then collapsed. Police said Grady EMS arrived and said she was dead. TRENDING STORIES: Guilty or Not? Tex McIver jury deliberations continue Man charged with arson in stable fire that killed 24 horses 'Armed and dangerous man' on the loose after killing wife, sheriff says Her injuries were consistent with being struck by a vehicle, Atlanta police Capt. Andrew Senzer said. Police said they believe the woman is between the ages of 25 and 35 years old. Police on scene said they noticed that there are no apartments or homes nearby, so they said they do not know why she was in the road. “You have 75/85 that splits with Langford Parkway and that loops around, it’s a lot of twists and turns over here, very dark, but we don’t know why the pedestrian was on the roadway,” Senzer said. If the woman was hit by a car, police will then start searching for the hit-and-run driver.
  • Security plans are being overhauled at the downtown Atlanta library after police say a woman was sexually assaulted. Police say a woman who works as a contract security guard had scissors held to her throat while a man hiding in the building tried to make her perform oral sex on him late Sunday night after the library had closed. Authorities are still searching for the suspect after he got away. Hear from the Fulton County board chairman about the new plans to keep you safe, on Channel 2 Action News at 5.  TRENDING STORIES: Guilty or Not? Tex McIver jury deliberations continue Authorities find body of teacher missing for 3 years Student drop-offs could be delayed 60-90 minutes after DeKalb bus drivers call out
  • NASA's latest nail-biting drama was far from orbit as the Senate narrowly confirmed President Donald Trump's choice of a tea party congressman to run the space agency in an unprecedented party-line vote. In a 50-49 vote Thursday, Oklahoma Rep. James Bridenstine, a Navy Reserve pilot, was confirmed as NASA's 13th administrator, an agency that usually is kept away from partisanship. His three predecessors — two nominated by Republicans — were all approved unanimously. Before that, one NASA chief served under three presidents, two Republicans and a Democrat. The two days of voting were as tense as a launch countdown. A procedural vote Wednesday initially ended in a 49-49 tie — Vice President Mike Pence, who normally breaks a tie, was at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida — before Arizona Republican Jeff Flake switched from opposition to support, using his vote as leverage to address an unrelated issue. Thursday's vote included the drama of another delayed but approving vote by Flake, a last-minute no vote by Illinois Democrat Tammy Duckworth — who wheeled onto the floor with her 10-day-old baby in tow — and the possibility of a tie-breaker by Pence, who was back in town. NASA is a couple years away from launching a new giant rocket and crew capsule to replace the space shuttle fleet that was retired in 2011. 'I look forward to working with the outstanding team at NASA to achieve the president's vision for American leadership in space,' Bridenstine said in a NASA release after the vote. Democrats opposing Bridenstine said his outspoken divisiveness, earlier rejection of mainstream climate change science and lack of space experience made him unqualified. Republicans praised him as a qualified war hero. 'His record of behavior in the Congress is as divisive as any in Washington, including his attacks on members of this body from his own party,' Florida Democrat Bill Nelson said. 'It's hard to see how that record will endear, and by extension NASA, him to Congress, and most importantly, endear him to the American people. ' Sen. Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, cited past Bridenstine comments that rejected mainstream climate science, invoking the movie 'Apollo 13.' 'Houston, we have a problem,' Markey said. 'NASA's science, NASA's mission and American leadership will be in jeopardy under Congressman Bridenstine's leadership.' During his confirmation hearing, Bridenstine said he acknowledges that global warming is real and man-made, but wouldn't say that it was mostly human-caused, as the overwhelming majority of scientists and scientific literature do. And Bridenstine told Nelson, 'I want to make sure that NASA remains, as you said, apolitical.' Texas Republican Ted Cruz praised the NASA nominee as 'a war hero.' 'NASA needs a strong leader and it will have that strong leader in Jim Bridenstine,' Cruz said. Sean O'Keefe, who was NASA chief under President George W. Bush and was confirmed unanimously, said the close vote 'is a consequence of an erosion of comity in the Congress, particularly in the Senate. Political fights will always break out, but now most policy choices are more likely to emerge based on the party with the majority than the power of the idea.' Alan Ladwig, a top NASA political appointee under Democrats, said this was a case of both party politics and a divisive nominee who doesn't accept science. __ Associated Press writers Mary Claire Jalonick and Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report. ___ Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears . His work can be found here .
  • Kirby Smart has called for fans to fill Sanford Stadium on Sunday for the annual G-day game.
  • The Justice Department has agreed to provide Congress with copies of several memos written by former FBI Director James Comey. That's according to a person familiar with the agreement. The person declined to be named because the documents had not yet been sent to Congress. The move comes as House Republicans threatened to subpoena the documents and criticized department officials. Comey revealed last year that he had written the memos after conversations with President Donald Trump, who later fired him. Justice officials had allowed some lawmakers to view the memos, but had never provided copies to Congress. Last week, three House chairmen demanded the memos by Monday. The Justice Department asked for more time, and the lawmakers agreed.