A judge is considering whether to order a recount in a disputed mayor pro tem election in Gray.
Superior Court Judge H. Gibbs Flanders from Dublin heard arguments Monday morning over a five-ballot discrepancy in a runoff race between incumbent Loretta Lipsey and challenger Rallie “Rooster” Cogburn.
Lipsey won the runoff 246-241, but five votes weren’t counted, apparently because the optical cards the votes were recorded on weren’t scanned, elections supervisor Jamie Lewandowski said.
Because the margin of victory was 1.02 percent, there was no mandated recount, which automatically takes place if the margin is 1 percent or less.
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“I’ve never had this before,” Lewandowski said. “It depends on what the judge orders.”
Lewandowski said the scanners are very sensitive and will kick out ballots that are overmarked but may not do so if the ballot wasn’t marked or the mark made was done too lightly.
She said two scanners were used. Two of the ballots came from one and three from the other.
Cogburn said he filed the lawsuit because of the flaws in the process, not because he lost the runoff.
Four other ballots were rejected completely — three because the voters didn’t provide adequate identification, while the fourth was because the signature didn’t match the signature on record.
All four of those ballots were never opened, she said, and aren’t part of the lawsuit.
“Obviously, there are inconsistencies in the process,” said Cogburn, a physician’s assistant and first-time political candidate. “I wanted it exposed. It has everything to do with the process and nothing to do with me winning.”
In his lawsuit, Cogburn asked the judge for either a recount or a new election.
Flanders is expected to hand down a decision this week.
Meanwhile, Lipsey is continuing to serve as mayor pro tem.
She was sworn into the position at a Gray City Council meeting last week.
“Right now, I don’t know what it’s going to come down to,” said Lipsey, who served as the city clerk for 34 years before retiring. “I’ve already been sworn in, and I’m serving in that capacity.”
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.