By Patrick J. Betchik.
Readers may remember the June election for Long County Probate Judge that ended with a challenger Teresa Odom, defeating incumbent Bobby Smith by nine votes. Judge Smith took the case to the courts and it was heard by the Honorable John Morse. This case reverberated throughout Georgia and the country. There over five pails or types of irregular voting in this case. Double voting was exposed, as was lost votes, and even the Secretary of State remarked, “Long County blew it.”
On Friday, December fourth, Judge Morse released his findings and the status of that election will stand. Luke Moses, the attorney for Ms. Odum said it best on, “We the People” a Facebook site.
“Back in March, Teresa Odum, came to me for representation as her political opponent was attempting to have her name removed from the ballot in the Long County Probate Court election. We beat that challenge twice before the election–once before the Long County Board of Elections and then on appeal before the Superior Court of Long County.
Once Judge-elect Odom won the election, her opponent requested a recount and he renewed his request (this time in front of the Georgia Supreme Court) to disqualify Judge-elect Odom as a candidate. The recount didn’t change Judge-elect Odom’s margin of victory and the Supreme Court didn’t disqualify Judge-elect Odom as a candidate.
After that, Judge-elect Odum’s opponent filed a Petition to Contest the Election Results and a Request for a New Election. In other words, he attempted to throw out the results of the election.
In early September, a three day trial on the losing candidate’s Petition took place. During the trial, the attorney representing the losing candidate asked the Court to effectively invalidate the validly-cast ballots of dozens of Long County citizens and to make the County hold a new election. As the Court put it in its Final Order, some of those arguments were “quite disingenuous.”
While it saddens me that this lawsuit cost both Long County and Judge-elect Odum needless time, effort, and resources, I’m proud that justice ultimately prevailed. The Final Order entered by the Court today speaks for itself. I’m sharing it on this page in the hope that folks across Long County can better understand what transpired in this election. Congratulations to Judge-elect Odum! I was proud to represent her and I know she’ll be a great and humble servant for the people of Long County!
The Judges full report may be viewed at “We the People.” A special thanks is in order to Long County, the Sheriff and Clerk of Courts, a Ms. Long who were friendly, transparent and wonderful to work with over a lengthily hearing.