Mistake may have cost incumbent election

Published 4:55 pm Tuesday, June 29, 2010

By Eason Franklin
The Lowndes Signal

The decision regarding who will be Lowndes County’s House Representative draws closer after a contest hearing by the Alabama State Democratic Executive Committee  (SDEC) on June 28.

Incumbent James Thomas’s attorney, Mark Sabel, presented his case to the committee Monday in an attempt to prove that mal-conduct or fraud were committed during the June 1 primary election.

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Issues with the distribution of a second Democratic ballot in Dallas County was the primary focus of Sabel’s argument.

Evidence presented by Sabel showed some District 69 ballots were still sealed in their cellophane wrappers and had never been touched.

Ballots for District 67 were the only ballots distributed at the Mt. Zion Church in Dallas County.

“Voters never got a chance to vote, they were given a ballot in a different race,” said Sabel. “We want to protect the voters.”

A lack of training and an honest mistake is said to have been the reason why the second Democratic ballots were never distributed by poll workers at Mt. Zion.

Kim Horton, who worked as Chief Inspector at the Mt. Zion Church said she could have been confused about ballots.

“It was my fault,” she said. “I didn’t know there were two ballots for Democrats. I didn’t pay attention to the other box.”

Colston’s attorney, Jerry Thornton argued the case should be thrown out because Thomas did not file for the contest within the proper time frame.

“Those voters chose not to vote in that race,” said Thornton. “Thomas didn’t file in the proper time frame and it should stop there.”

Thomas was 120 votes short of entering into a runoff with Colston and Thomas’s attorney said the 338 voters who did not receive District 69 ballots would have swayed the election results.

The SDEC is expected to make a decision concerning the contest within their five-day time frame, according to panel member Greg Graves.