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Riverdale vote certification reveals 60 lost votes

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

A certification of the votes from Tuesday's municipal election in Riverdale has revealed 60 votes that were missing from the original tally. According to city officials, the new vote totals do not change the outcome of the election.

The new vote count, certified at noon on Friday, is as follows: Council Ward 1 Candidates -- Cynthia Stamps-Jones, 345, Rick Scoggins (incumbent), 233, and one write-in vote for Thomas Houston; Council Ward 3 Candidates -- Wanda Wallace (incumbent), 332, Veverly Brooks, 210, Stan Byars, 39.

In the certification, Stamps-Jones picked up 48 votes, Scoggins picked up 11, Wallace gained 54 votes, Brooks picked up two, and Byars gained three additional votes.

"This morning when they were doing the certification, we found that 60 votes were not counted," said City Clerk Stephanie Thomas. "One of our poll workers didn't take one of the memory cards out of the machine, so it was still in there until this morning. When we got to that machine, it had the 60 votes on it.

"The results were still the same," she added. "Now, they [the Wallace and Stamps-Jones] won by a landslide."

According to Elections Superintendent Gloria Collins, votes were counted on two machines during the advance voting period, which ended Oct. 30, and votes were counted on five other machines on the day of the election. She said the missing memory card was from one of the two machines used during advance voting.

"The tape we had was for one machine, and it should have been for two," Collins said. Collins could not say why the memory card was not retrieved prior to Tuesday. She said that, for reasons such as the missing memory card, election results are certified.

"That's why you have a final vote [tally], where you pull out all of your records, everybody is calm, and you double and triple check," Collins said. "The results for the winners are the same. It is a little larger margin," than before, she said.

Stamps-Jones and Wallace, the winners from the election, were unfazed by the results of the certification. "My thought is that the people of Riverdale came out, regardless of all the misinformation that was put out ... and they spoke," Wallace said. "They like what we are doing for the city. They like that we have made vision that has actually become a reality.

"I have no resentment [at the results of the certification]," Wallace added. "I'm just happy again that the people of this city, they came out and showed what they wanted."

"Sixty more [or] 60 less, I think the results would still be the same," Stamps-Jones said. "The person I ran against, they had eight years to serve. They did what they were going to do and they didn't need four more years. Things happen ... that's why we check and double check. The errors were caught and [were] corrected and the vote stands ... and I feel good about that."

On Friday, Brooks said she was not aware of the certified vote totals and preferred not to comment. Scoggins and Byars could not be reached for comment.

In other post-election news, Forest Park Elections Superintendent David Painter said the city certified its Tuesday vote totals on Friday, taking into account six provisional ballots. Only four of the provisional ballots were voters registered within the Forest Park city limits, Painter said.

The final vote totals for Forest Park's candidates are as follows: Mayoral Candidates -- Corine Deyton, 622, Darnell Moorer, 272, Christine Ellington, 195 (picking up four votes); Council Ward 1 Candidates -- Thomas Smith, Jr., 98, Sparkle Adams, 88 (picking up one vote), Kimberly James, 78; Council Ward 2 Candidates -- Karen-Brandee Williams 126 (picking up two votes and becoming the highest vote getter), Donald Wright, 125, and Deverick Williams, 36.

Incumbent Councilwoman Adams will face challenger Smith in a runoff for the Ward 1 seat, and Donald Wright and Karen-Brandee Williams will face each other in a runoff for the Ward 2 council seat.

The runoff election will take place on Dec. 1, with early voting beginning this Monday. Early voting will take place at Forest Park City Hall, Nov. 9-25, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:30 a.m., and 4:30 p.m.

City Hall is located at 745 Forest Parkway in Forest Park.

Also on Friday, Jonesboro city officials reported no changes between the city's certified results and the unofficial count on Tuesday.