Green Party

Vote has surprise

Voting in Brunswick’s mayoral election opened as scheduled Tuesday after a federal judge rejected a disqualified candidate’s attempt to stop it.

U.S. District Judge Anthony Alaimo turned down Monday a request by Elaine Brown to halt the election because the Glynn County Board of Elections had removed her from the ballot Oct. 14, when it decided unanimously she had failed to meet the one-year residency rule to be a candidate.

He did not order her to be reinstated as a candidate.

Alaimo, however, told the board of elections to tally and preserve any write-in votes that might be cast for Brown, even though the board had removed her from the ballot after it was too late for her to qualify as a write-in candidate.

Alaimo said he issued the order to tally and preserve any votes for Brown, a former president of the national Black Panther party, in order to protect the record of the election while she pursued an appeal of the elections board decision.

No matter how many write-in votes Brown receives, she cannot win the election because she is not a qualified candidate.

The winner will come from among two candidates on the ballot – Bryan Thompson, executive director of Blueprint Brunswick, and Otis Herrington, a former city commissioner – and a qualified write-in candidate – Betsy Bean, a historic preservation proponent.

City voters also will elect two commissioners Tuesday and both city and county voters will decide whether to enact a 1 percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. Money from that tax, that would be collected beginning Jan. 1, 2007, would go largely to infrastructure improvements.

With only the SPLOST issue on the countywide ballot, elections officials were predicting a low voter turnout when voting ends at 7 p.m.

Patty Gibson, chair of the Glynn County Board of Elections, said she found voting slow in the city during a check of polling locations after 8 a.m. Tuesday.

Overall, it has been quiet, though Gibson noted that elections officials had to caution poll watchers for Brown at the Adult Education Center and Risley Middle School polling locations.

“They had a list of registered voters and were asking voters standing in line for their names and checking them off their list, which we told them they could not do,” Gibson said.

Before Alaimo’s ruling Monday, the board had said it would only count votes for approved write-in candidates. All others would be discarded, it said, including any votes cast for Brown following her removal from the ballot.

After the hearing, Brown called Alaimo’s ruling a victory. While the judge did not restore Brown’s candidacy or voter status, his decision preserved the Election Day voting record for possible use by Brown in any challenge.

“This is the first step to victory,” she said. “It’s big.”

Elections board superintendent Patricia Gibson said the board will comply with Alaimo’s order.

“We will tally them and they will be available in the office for her,” she said. “It will not affect the results because she is not an official candidate.”

City voters will also elect two city commissioners. Incumbents Cornell Harvey and Doris Davis both face challenges in the North and South Wards, respectively.

In the North Ward, Neil Foster, Gladys Martin-Lyde and write-ins Gary Cook and Michael Johnson hope to unseat Harvey, while James Brooks takes on Davis in the South Ward. Davis is also running as a write-in candidate.

November 7, 2005