Convicted felon's vote could make a difference in Dawson Council race - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Convicted felon's vote could make a difference in Dawson Council race

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December 6, 2006

Terrell County-  The vote of a convicted felon in Terrell County is called into question and it could force voters in Dawson back to the polls in an election decided by a razor-thin margin.  Charlie Sanders won his city council race over Carolyn Allen by just one vote.  Allen claims she's the rightful winner and today asked a judge to hold a new election.

When Dawson ward five voters went to the polls in November 2005, they elected Charlie Sanders over incumbent Carolyn Allen, by a vote of 100 to 99. Four votes were initially called into question. Today in court attorney's agreed three of those voters were legal.

"The fact of the matter was it was going to be difficult to prove where they lived at the time of the elections, what was substantively and conclusively true was that one of the voters and that's all we needed was a convicted felon," said Attorney Kim Minix. 

That voter was Nellie McDaniel. In court, Allen's attorney's said she was convicted of aggravated assault and shouldn't have been allowed to vote.

"Georgia law is clear that it doesn't matter how that person voted, just that they voted and they shouldn't have voted for whom she voted it wouldn't have mattered," said Minix. 

Charlie Sanders' lawyer Maurice King claims the election office had McDaniel's information more than a year before the November 2005 vote but never took her off the list of registered voters until after the election. King also said they can't prove that she even cast a ballot for Sanders.

"They have not shown that the person in question actually voted in the race which Mr. Sanders was a part of," said King.

At the end of the hearing King called the matter a vote over race. "If we lose this race it's not because of the evidence and in a world that is fair and impartial we win this case," said King.

If the judge finds in favor of Allen, Georgia law calls for a new election. Judge Harry Altman initially dismissed the case and declared Sanders the winner.

The case was appealed to the Supreme Court who ruled Judge Altman must hear the case. Altman has taken the case under advisement. Sanders is currently serving as councilman for ward five.

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