Vote counts change, results remain same

By Greg Gelpi

Peering through glass windows and watching the democratic process at work, political candidates and area residents watched the recount of votes Wednesday.

The vote totals did change, but not enough to alter any of the results.

Norreese Haynes, who ran for the Clayton County Board of Education District 5 seat, was knocked out of contention by one vote, but hoped the recount would find that he had enough votes to advance to the Aug. 10 runoff election.

Incumbent Barbara Wells had the most votes in the race with 849, and Wendell Rod Johnson came in second with 491, one vote more than Haynes. Jermaine Dawson had 408 votes.

"That's it," Haynes said as the numbers were read aloud. "You always have hope there's a chance for one vote. Make sure in the 5th District you go out and vote because every vote counts. That is the message I want to get out."

Wells and Johnson will face each other in the runoff election.

The school board race was one of four races that were recounted Wednesday. The Clayton County Department of Elections and Registration also recounted votes for the state court of appeals judgeship, solicitor general and Clayton County Board of Commissioners District 3.

Although Charles Davis pulled in 31 percent of the vote in the primary election, second, third and fourth places were separated by less than 100 votes.

"I feel relieved," Davis said. "I knew that I probably would still come out ahead."

The recount confirmed that Wole Ralph will advance to a runoff with Davis.

"We always had confidence in the voters," said Ralph, who learned about the recount as it was going on. "I was a little surprised. With the electronic system of counting the votes, human error is minimized."

Elections officials fed the 29,338 votes through computerized elections machines and paper ballots through electronic scanners to recount the votes.

Davis had 2,660 votes, compared to Ralph's 1,830 votes, Cedric McCrary's 1,754 votes, Ronald Ringer's 1,733 votes and Tiger Billingslea's 595 votes.

Leslie Miller Terry added one vote from the recount to her total, stretching her lead to 12,940 votes to incumbent Keith Martin's 12,774 in the solicitor general's race.

In the nonpartisan race for judge of the state court of appeals, Debra Bernes maintained her lead with 11,529 votes, although William A. Hawkins, Thomas C. Rawlings, Mike Sheffield and Lee E.T. Wallace each picked up a vote. Bernes, who had more than 40 percent of the votes, will be in the runoff with Sheffield, who had just under 20 percent.

Election results decided by 1 percent or less were eligible for recounts.