South Georgia Local Government

Screven County Election Officials Sued Over Issuance of Incorrect Ballots in County Commission Race

Two sitting county commissioners, a candidate for local office, and two residents are suing Screven County election officials over the November 8 General Election certification.

The point of contention is over the county’s decision to certify election results in Screven County in a county commission race with a margin of just seven votes. In that race, the opponents of the certification now say proper ballots with the correct county commission districts were not given to voters who changed districts thanks to the redistricting earlier this year.

In District 1, Democrat incumbent Edwin Lovett prevailed over Republican Tyler Thompson by seven votes. 715 Screven County voters cast ballots in that district with Lovett garnering 361 votes (50.49%) and Thompson garnering 354 (49.51%).

The Suit

Screven County Commissioners Allison Willis and Mike Dixon, candidate for county commissioner in District 1 Tyler Thompson, Vicki T. Reddick, and Michael Lloyd Waters filed the suit on Friday afternoon. Reddick is a former resident of District 2 who has been moved to District 1 thanks to the Census-based redistricting in February 2022. Likewise, Waters was previously in District 6 but moved to District 1 at the same time as Reddick. They’re represented by John B. Long out of Augusta.

The suit names Hannah R. Derriso, the Supervisor of Elections in Screven County, Debbie Brown, Superintendent of Elections in Screven County, and Edwin Lovett, the current county commissioner for District 1.

The suit contends that forty-two voters were moved from Districts 2, 3, and 6 and into District 1 in February, of which twenty voted on November 8th. However, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit contend that those twenty voters were given the wrong ballot and were not able to vote in the District 1 race as they should have been. Given that the race was within a seven vote margin, the suit states that the twenty improper ballots could have changed the outcome of the race.

Oher points included in the argument made in the lawsuit:

  • Brown and Derriso were informed that the incorrect ballots were given to the voters prior to certification on November 16, 2022, but that Brown and Derriso did not take corrective action
  • A list of voters in the district who were given the incorrect ballot
  • The parties to the suit have submitted sworn affidavits attesting to their statements
  • A re-election should be ordered by an administrative judge on the matter.

The suit was filed two days after certification, well within the required five days outlined in state law. A copy was served to all of the defendants as well as the State Board of Elections. 

Under Georgia law, a hearing must be held at least five days after but not more than ten days after the notice is served upon the defendants. November 24 and 25 are state holidays and subsequently, the time frame for a possible hearing is November 29-December 6. 

administrator
Jessica Szilagyi is Publisher of The Georgia Virtue. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta, a commentator on the 'Let Me Tell You Why You're Wrong Podcast,' and she has two blogs of her own: The Perspicacious Conservative and "Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers." Sign up for her weekly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gzYAZT

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