The Georgia Supreme Court upholds a lower court ruling that says June primary votes that were cast for Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Jerry NeSmith are void: NeSmith died two days before the election, in which he won what would have been a third term on the Commission, defeating Athens activist Jesse Houle by more than four hundred votes. As the only other candidate on the ballot, Houle will take office for a full four-year term in January.
“Because the applicable Georgia statutes dictate that votes cast on paper ballots for a candidate who has died before Election Day are void, none of the votes cast for NeSmith had legal effect,” Justice Charles Bethel wrote in Monday’s opinion. That means the elections board was correct to declare Houle commissioner-elect, he added.
A special election to fill the remaining months on NeSmith’s term is scheduled for November 3, with Houle on that ballot along with Athens businessman Chad Lowery.