CONYERS - The Rockdale County Board of Elections (BOE) voted unanimously Wednesday morning to deny the request by State Rep. Pam Dickerson, D-Conyers, for a recount in her loss to Sharon Henderson in the District 113 election. The BOE also unanimously voted to certify the results of the June 9 Primary Election.
Dickerson, who was seeking her sixth term, received 5,531 votes to Sharon Henderson’s 5,689, a difference of 158 votes, in the Democratic Primary.
In Rockdale, Dickerson received 866 votes to Henderson’s 635, a difference of 231 votes. In Newton, Dickerson’s vote total was 4,665, compared to Henderson’s total of 5,054, a difference of 389 votes.
With the General Assembly currently in session, Dickerson was unable to be at the called meeting. Ruth Wilson spoke on her behalf to the BOE, stating Dickerson was asking for the recount because of a number of registered voters who had received absentee ballots in the mail, but came to vote at their precincts, were not allowed to vote and told they had to go home and get their absentee ballots and bring them back in. Wilson said according to the Secretary of State's Office, that was incorrect and that the poll worker should have notified the elections supervisor to cancel the ballot and the voter just needed to sign an affidavit in order to be able to vote. Dickerson filed an open records request for the number of affidavits that had been signed.
Wilson also said they had found one student was denied his right to vote because he went to school in a different county from where his residence was. She asked that the elections not be certified until those issues were investigated.
Rockdale Elections Supervisor Cynthia Willingham advised the board that a letter she received from Dickerson on June 15 concerning the recount specifically named Newton County as the county where both the problem with affidavits and the student occurred. Willingham added that she spoke by phone with Dickerson on June 16 and that Rockdale had answered all of Dickerson's open records requests and Dickerson had indicated she had received the requested items.
Willingham noted that the Fieldstone Precinct is the only precinct in Rockdale County represented in District 113 and that her office had all of the cancelled absentee ballot affidavits that were completed by Rockdale voters.
"We had a total of 1,628 cancelled absentee ballots received by voters who came in to vote and signed affidavits," Willingham said. "For Fieldstone Precinct, we have a total of 153 cancelled ballots."
Board Chair Aldren Sadler asked Wilson if Dickerson was going to request a recount from the Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and she indicated that Dickerson planned on walking the request to his office on Wednesday.
Sadler expressed concern that if Rockdale granted the recount request and Raffensperger also authorized a recount, that Rockdale would have to do the recount twice and could not meet the June 19 deadline for certifying the election results.
Board member Gerald Barger made a motion to deny the recount request since the issues raised by Dickerson occurred in Newton County and Dickerson won in Rockdale. After further discussion and Willingham explaining the state laws regarding recounts, board member Karen James seconded the motion and it was approved, 3-0.
Following the vote, Sadler explained why the BOE denied the recount request.
"What we're saying as a board is one, Rep. Dickerson won in Rockdale," Sadler said. "Second, we're saying that it does not appear that there were any problems in Rockdale. Third, if the state grants the recount, then we'll be spending time doing it twice when she already has won in Rockdale County. That is the decision we came to."
The board also certified the election results. Willingham noted that there were 76 provisional ballots, 49 were counted, and 27 were rejected. She said 26 of the 27 ballots were rejected because the voters were registered to vote in other counties, and one was rejected because the voter had already had their absentee ballot counted.
Henderson, a Covington minister, attended the meeting and said she is moving forward as the representative-elect for District 113.
"I won and it is all said and done," Henderson said. "I'm looking forward to moving forward and working for the people, giving them my full 110% attention, helping seniors, helping special needs children, helping veterans; I have a list of things I'd like to get done and I'm very eager and anxious to get started."
Henderson went on to thank the Board of Elections and their staff for all their hard work and dedication during the Primary Election.
The Newton County Board of Elections will hear Dickerson's recount request at a 4 p.m. called meeting on June 18.