At least one Judge got it right! A Screven County judge in Georgia ruled in favor of a new election after ‘irregularities’ in the 2022 election. Arizona and Pennsylvania GOP candidates experienced similar election integrity catastrophes but failed to overturn what they believed to be fraudulent elections.
On November 18, 2022, 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 a lawsuit against Elections Superintendent Debbie Brown, Elections Supervisor Hannah Derriso, and Commissioner Edwin Lovett. The five contended that the wrong ballots had been issued to at least two dozen voters in District 1 and that the incorrect ballots may have had an impact on the county commission race in that district which had a margin of just seven votes.
According to TheGeorgiaVirtue.com, on December 4, 2022, attorneys for Brown, Derriso, and Lovett filed a response, arguing that they were the wrong parties to sue and that the Chief Registrar should be sued instead. Tenured Chief Registrar Dorothy Glisson was added to the suit shortly thereafter, but the plaintiffs did not drop the suit against the other three, in which they asked a judge to order a new election for the District 1 county commission race.
Senior Judge Michael Karpf, a longtime judge from Chatham County, was appointed in November to oversee the proceedings and he subsequently scheduled a hearing for December 22.
The courtroom was fairly full Thursday with upwards of thirty people in attendance, including Commission Chairman Will Boyd, Commissioner John Triplett, and Commissioner Rosa Romeo who was seen dozing off on a handful of occasions during the three-hour hearing at the courthouse.
Decision By Judge Karpf
Following the hearing, and after a seventeen-minute recess, Judge Karpf returned to the bench. He handily rejected the arguments by Rountree and Perkins, citing a 2021 case by the Georgia Supreme Court (Smith v. Long County). That case superseded the other two rulings cited by attorneys and established two prongs:
- If the number of illegal votes exceeds the margin of the election results, that is sufficient grounds to set aside the election; and
- If there are systemic irregularities in the elections process that are ‘sufficiently egregious’ to cast doubt on the result.
“And we at least have that,” Karpf said, referring to the second bullet point.
Karpf rejected Derriso’s definition of what constitutes an illegal vote, saying “her opinion is not binding on me.”
“Where some electors were entitled to vote but not allowed to and where other electors were allowed to vote when they shouldn’t have been…has illegality,” he told the parties.
He also belabored that he believed the mistakes were unintentional, but are present nevertheless, warranting a new election. “It was clearly unintentional. It was clearly affected by external circumstances, primarily the timing of it.”
“Twenty votes is sufficiently egregious because it could have changed the result,” Karpf said before announcing he would be granting the Plaintiff’s Petition to set aside the elections.
Karpf told the parties that a new order would likely not be signed until after the first of the year to allow for adequate time to remedy issues with voter assignment and to ensure enough time exists before the call for a special election.
After handling the administrative matters, Karpf echoed his position: “I take your point about 700 people voting again, but it’s got to be a fair election. I reject the contention that it’s on the individual voter to know he or she is in the wrong district, particularly when the line is changed [down the middle of a single road,] at the last minute…I’m sorry, I don’t think that’s correct.”
Watch the decision by the judge:
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