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Benoit claims irregularies in BOE District 8 election

JONESBORO — A Clayton County Board of Education candidate claims voting machine errors cost him a chance to unseat school board Vice-Chairwoman Alieka Anderson this week.

Jeffery Benoit said he filed a challenge Thursday against the election results where he lost to Anderson by a more than 2-to-1 margin in the District 8 school board race. Anderson received 1,067 votes — which is 67.45 percent of all ballots cast in the race — compared to 515 for Benoit.

Benoit’s campaign to get on the school board was the latest in a line of failed bids to seek various elected offices. He ran unsuccessfully in the past for a spot on the Clayton County Board of Commissioners and a seat in the state House of Representatives.

In this latest case, he said his efforts were derailed by alleged fraud he said was caused by voting machine irregularities. He’s also produced residents whose statements of alleged issues may back up his case.

“What I’m looking to do is have a recall on the election and have the machines forensically tested and call this election some [expletive],” said Benoit.

Benoit’s case is based on statements a family of supporters. Rex resident Gail Beddingford said she, her husband and their daughter cast their ballots during early voting. Beddingford said she and her daughter found the District 9 school board race, where Charlton Bivins ran unopposed, while her husband had the District 8 race on his ballot.

All three live in the same household, said Beddingford.

“We’ve all live in the same house, at the same address, and we’ve all been registered voters here for some time,” she said. “I don’t know what happened. I really don’t know what happened, but I don’t see how there’s consistency of three people living in the same household and two people got one ballot and another got a different one.”

Beddingford said she tried to raise questions about District 9 race showing up on her ballot before she pushed the “Cast Ballot” button on the voting machine.

“Basically I was told the computer knew from my address where I lived and what candidates should be on my ballot,” she said. “I didn’t want anything happening to my ballot so I went ahead and sent the ballot.”

Elections and Registration officials said they had not received any elections challenge as of Thursday at 2:10 p.m.

Anderson said she is not worried about the challenge and expressed confidence that she won the election fairly. She said she does not believe there were errors with the voting machines.

“We know the process was done right and we’re just focused on moving forward in the Anderson camp,” said Anderson. “We trust the process Mrs. [Annie] Bright and the Elections and Registration staff have in place.”

Anderson said her landslide victory should speak for itself.

“The people have spoken and said who they wanted to represent them and that is Dr. Alieka Anderson,” she said.

The election results were not scheduled to be certified until today.