Election day gets closer as ballot hearing drags on
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -
A huge sign urging voters to write in Lorenzo Heard's name on the November ballot for the school board at-large seat still stands in East Albany.
Heard is in limbo as his hearing drags on. He's trying to get on the ballot as an Independent, but for now he's campaigning as a write-in candidate.
"Well I have concern that people will not know what to do. But we'll get our message out as best we can," said Heard. "I'm hoping that the judge will rule and stop the election and get us on the ballot."
Heard is suing the Dougherty County Board of Elections, which ruled he did not qualify to run as an Independent.
After hearing testimony Monday and Tuesday, Grady County Judge Richard Porter gave both sides an October 19th deadline to turn in written closing arguments along with legal documents.
"There are a lot of legal arguments that have to be made and that requires some research," explained Maurice King, Heard's attorney.
Heard's attorneys claim the elections office made errors by not accepting his notice of candidacy and miscounting petition signatures.
But Ed Collier, the Board of Elections attorney, says those documents were not in compliance with the law.
And time is ticking. 800 absentee ballots have already gone out and early voting begins in less than two weeks.
"At this point there's no court order in place stopping the election. So we're business as usual in the election office," said Ed Collier, the Board of Elections attorney.
Lane Price who is currently the only candidate for the at-large seat says it's been a campaign full of ups and downs, but she's carrying on as usual.
"I'm still planning to be on the school board. It's been an interesting six months. I announced back in March and here we are six and a half months later. I'm still absolutely delighted that I decided to run and I thank my supporters," said Price.
If the judge rules in Heard's favor, the court will have to give the election board specific instructions on how to proceed. And the election could be delayed.
Early voting beings October 15th. Officials in the secretary of state's office say if voters are supporting Heard they can write his name in on the ballot until the legal matter is settled.
If the judge rules in favor of the Board of Elections Heard will remain a write-in candidate.