District 6 Commission candidate mulling challenge

pramati@macon.comSeptember 18, 2013 

Many of the controversies that plagued early voting for Macon-Bibb County’s special election for a new consolidated government continued to crop up at the polls Tuesday, and at least one candidate is considering challenging the results.

District 6 commission candidate Robert Abbott, who finished third in his race with 1,000 votes, said there are enough questions about problems Tuesday that could mean he has a chance to overcome the 63-vote gap between him and second-place finisher Adah Roberts. Macon City Councilman Ed DeFore led with 2,017 votes in the district and is headed to an Oct. 15 runoff with Roberts, who claimed 1,063 votes.

Until late Tuesday night, DeFore’s challenger in a runoff appeared to be Abbott. But results from advance and absentee voting pushed Roberts ahead of Abbott by 63 votes, setting up the DeFore-Roberts showdown instead.

Abbott said between well-documented problems during the early voting process -- in which 90 people across the county cast ballots in the wrong district -- and other election issues he heard about Tuesday, he’s considering whether to mount a legal challenge to the election. Abbott said he expects to make a decision by the end of the week.

“I heard some complaints that people were voting in District 7, when they should have been in District 6,” said Abbott. “I’m contemplating (challenging the results). I’m getting information together ... and deciding what I want to do.”

Abbott, who ran as a Republican for a Bibb County Commission seat against Commissioner Joe Allen in 2012, said he lost support Tuesday in three precincts he won handily a year ago.

“I didn’t carry my own precinct,” he said. “This is a Republican district, and two Democrats pulled in more votes? ... I don’t want to be a bad loser, but I want all of the facts.”

Because he isn’t certain if he will challenge the results, Abbott said he won’t endorse anyone in the race until his situation is settled.

Allen, who ran for mayor Tuesday, said if Abbott doesn’t challenge the result, he might challenge the commission race himself. Allen said he, his wife, his neighbor and others he knows were given District 7 ballots when they should have been in District 6. It took Allen a while to get a correct ballot, and he said several voters left his precinct in disgust after choosing not to vote rather than voting on the wrong ballot.

Allen said he plans to contact Bibb County Attorney Virgil Adams this week about the commission race. He added that he had no issues with how the votes in the mayor’s race were counted.

“I’m going to take a look at it, because this is wrong,” Allen said.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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