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State investigating Forsyth mayor’s race

Former Forsyth Mayor Tye D. Howard may have dropped his petition challenging absentee ballots cast in the Nov. 8 mayoral election, but the race is under investigation by the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.

Howard filed the petition due to an “extraordinary” number of absentee ballots cast and irregularities associated with absentee voting, said his attorney, Charles E. Cox Jr. Howard lost to John T. Howard by 151 votes.

Among the irregularities were 120 applications for absentee ballots that have what appears to be similar or identical handwriting, Cox said.

Although Cox admits no handwriting analysis has been performed, “obviously that raised some red flags,” he said.

The dismissal was filed a day before a hearing scheduled to be held Friday in Monroe County Superior Court, said C. Robert Melton, Forsyth’s city attorney.

“It speaks for itself,” Melton said of the dismissal, adding that the election is no longer contested.

Cox said Howard chose to drop his petition in part due to the number of votes he’d need to win the election.

“We didn’t feel we would be able to successfully challenge that number of votes,” he said. But “I think Mr. Howard still feels like there were a number of irregularities.”

Michael O’Sullivan, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, confirmed Friday that an investigation is being conducted regarding absentee ballots cast in the Nov. 8 mayoral election in Forsyth.

He could not provide information about when the investigation was launched or a timeline for when it will be concluded.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.