Election sees high voter turnout in LaFayette

Published 6:41 pm Wednesday, February 13, 2019

LaFAYETTE — Tuesday’s special city council election in LaFayette had better voter turnout than expected, according to City Clerk Louis Davidson.   

“It exceeded my expectations,” he said. “However, I would still like to see more people vote.”

In 2016, District B in LaFayette saw 192 people vote in the general election. On Tuesday, there were 141 votes in a special election in the middle of a term.

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He said there are 340 registered voters in the district.

After all the votes were counted Tuesday, Charlotte Blasingame garnered 65 votes and David Ennis obtained 40 votes, forcing a runoff between the two candidates on March 26. The remaining candidate Shannon Hunter received 36 votes.

Those results are unofficial at the moment but will be canvased by the city council at noon on Feb. 19. Davidson said candidates have 48 hours after the votes are canvased to contest any votes.

When reading off the results Tuesday night, Davidson said there were provisional ballots the Chambers County Board of Registrar needed to rule on before they could become official. However, there are only three provisional votes, meaning there are not enough votes for Hunter to move past Ennis. Two of those votes were absentee ballots, and the other one is from Tuesday night.

He said a provisional vote is usually when someone from out of the district attempts to vote in that election but isn’t registered. When the voter says they are registered and the city clerk doesn’t have them on the list as a regular voter in the district, the voter can contest the decision by voting on a provisional ballot. The same process occurs with absentee ballots.

The decision on whether or not those votes count goes to the Board of Registrar.

The special election was necessary due to former City Councilman Mathew Hurst resigning in June to take another job and moving out of the district. In August, several candidates showed interest in the seat, which could have been appointed by the city council.

However, in spite of Mayor Barry Moody recommending Blasingame at the time, the council decided it would be best to hold a special election and let the people vote on their next council representative.

If the council had appointed a candidate in August, the cost would have been minimal to the city. However, because of the special election, the city had to rent three voting machines, hire 11 poll workers, station a police officer and extend the working hours of city employees.

Davidson didn’t have the cost of the election as of Wednesday because of the freshness of the election, but he said it wasn’t free.

“It costs money to have an election,” he said.