Baker sheriff election must wait - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Baker sheriff election must wait

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A civil suit was filed by challenger Tim Williamson A civil suit was filed by challenger Tim Williamson
Dana Meade filed an appeal against the judge's ruling with the Georgia Supreme Court Dana Meade filed an appeal against the judge's ruling with the Georgia Supreme Court
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NEWTON, GA -

It could be months before Baker County voters cast their ballots for sheriff.

A judge ordered a new election last October because of evidence of voting irregularities and vote buying in the August election won by incumbent Sheriff Dana Meade.

He appealed that decision to the Georgia Supreme Court. A decision in the case could be far off, and it doesn't end there. A re-do election was set for January 8th. That's not happening.

The civil suit filed by challenger Tim Williamson contained testimony from voters who claimed their votes were bought with liquor and money. Those allegations are being looked into by the Secretary of States office and prompted a new election. But when that will happen is yet to be seen.

In the August primary runoff incumbent Baker County Sheriff Dana Meade edged out challenger Tim Williamson by 39 votes. What would've been an uncontested general election was contested in the courts.

Williamson sued. Testimony from voters claiming they were offered liquor and money for their votes and the mishandling of absentee ballots enough for a Superior Court Judge to order a new election.

'It's impossible to say when a new election will be," said Bake Co. Attorney Tommy Coleman. "The January 8th re-do is no more. An appeal of the ruling filed by Meade is now in the hands of the state's highest court which will either overturn the ruling or leave it as is."

"It takes months to get something scheduled before the supreme court. Once they have arguments it takes months for them to hear the arguments and make a decision."

While no official election has taken place, Coleman says Meade still has all the powers of sheriff. "He continues to have all the authority vested in the Sheriff of Baker County up until the time the court rules and there is a new election."

But it could be 60 days from the time the court rules on the appeal. Meaning it could be mid summer at the earliest before voters can head to the polls, or if overturned, whether an election will take place at all.

Because the election in contest was a primary race, it raises the question as to how the process will be conducted seeing as this was not a general election which would have still left the option open for write in votes.

And that election is still under investigation by the secretary of state's office.

 

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