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Suit against Forest Park elections chief dropped

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Forest Park Ward 3 Councilwoman-elect Maudie McCord has withdrawn her lawsuit against Forest Park Elections Superintendent Sandra Norwood.

McCord said that upon reading the Clayton News Daily on Friday and learning about the rules governing provisional ballots, she decided to drop the suit.

"With the new information I received today," McCord said, she decided to drop the suit.

"I did not get the information about the provisional ballots," the councilwoman-elect said.

McCord said that on the night of the Dec. 4 election, she had gone by City Hall twice to see the results of the election, but the results, as well as the note informing candidates of the Dec. 7 certification had not yet been posted.

"I know there was a lack of communication," said McCord. "I did the next best thing that I felt I could do."

As of Friday, Norwood said that she had not been served any papers by Clayton County Superior Court, and as such, would not make a statement regarding the suit being withdrawn.

However, Norwood suggested that the law governing the certification of election results was very clear. In section 21-2-493, paragraph K, of the Georgia Code -- the same section cited in the petition made by McCord on Wednesday -- it states election results "shall be certified by the superintendent not later than 5 p.m. on the seventh day following the date on which such [an] election was held."

John Parker, city manager of Forest Park said the city had not been formally served with any documents from the Superior Court, but said that the city was prepared to defend Norwood, if the matter had gone to court.

"I seriously doubt that Sandra was guilty of any violation," said Parker. He said that since the suit was dropped, the city would let the matter "die a natural death."

While McCord believes the election could have been more organized, she admitted making a judgment too soon.

On Wednesday, McCord filed suit against Norwood in Clayton County Superior Court demanding Norwood be found guilty of a misdemeanor for not certifying the results of the Nov. 6 election, as well as the subsequent Dec. 4 runoff between McCord and incumbent David Halcome by noon the following day.

McCord beat Halcome 84 votes to 67 in the runoff. She said Norwood "neglected to uphold the law ... neglected to act in accordance with the law."

Norwood defended her actions, saying a note was affixed on the door of City Hall the night of the election informing candidates when certification would take place. She said results were delayed because one voter in each election was granted a provisional ballot.

"Any time you hand the provisional ballot out, you have to give them 48 hours to bring the identification in," said Norwood. "This is the way that is supposed to be done ... you give them 48 hours to answer it."