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Candidate asks judge to overrule Board of Elections

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Jonesboro resident, Marcela Bodkin, is seeking legal intervention to get her name on the November ballot as an independent candidate in the Board of Education District 6 race.

On Wednesday, Bodkin filed a Writ of Mandamus against Bob Bolia, chairman of the Clayton County Board of Elections and Registration; Secretary of State Karen Handel, and "unnamed individuals not yet identified."

Bodkin is asking Clayton County Superior Court Judge Geronda V. Carter to overturn the Board of Elections' decision to reject many of the signatures she collected to get on the ballot as an independent candidate in the Board of Education District 6 race. The would-be candidate also wants the judge to order election officials to put her on the ballot. Bodkin is representing herself in her legal pursuit.

Democrats Mary Baker and John Askew will face each other in an Aug. 5 run-off election for their party's nomination for the seat. There is no Republican opposition. Bodkin and Baker, however, will face each other in a Sept. 16 special election to fill the remaining three and a half months of the unexpired term of former District 6 representative Eddie White.

Bodkin had to collect the signatures of 709 registered voters who lived in District 6 to get on the ballot as an independent candidate. On Monday, she told the Clayton News Daily she had collected 1,800 signatures, but only 239 were certified by the Board of Elections.

"I don't think they were paying attention to the names," said Bodkin on Monday. "This is telling me that as an individual, I cannot be on the ballot in November, because of the system they have in place for someone who doesn't want to be a Republican or a Democrat."

The would-be candidate said she went door to door in District 6, and to the Lake Spivey Golf Club, to gather signatures. According to notations form the elections office, however, there were numerous problems with names on the petitions, including: some of the people who filled out their information printed the name without signing it; some did not live in the county; some wrote their names illegibly; some were not registered to vote in District 6.

In her legal filing, Bodkin said Clayton County Board of Elections officials "miscounted" and "improperly counted" the signatures she collected. "There were irregularities in the process leading to the unlawful decision" to keep her off the November Ballot, Bodkin stated.

Bolia said he had not yet received a copy of the writ, and could not comment on the issue. Matt Carrothers, a spokesman for Handel, said he was not familiar with the legal document, either.