Eddie West

Comer City Councilman Eddie West alleges that the Nov. 2 election when he fell to challenger Michael Wilder was marred by fraud. And he wants a judge to nullify the loss and call for a new vote.

West, who lost the District 4 city election 50-29, filed a motion to contest the election in Madison County Superior Court “on grounds of potential voter fraud and vote tampering as well as votes possibly cast by individuals who are registered in the district who do not currently reside in the district.”

Northern Judicial Circuit Judge Jeffery Malcom recused himself from the case last week and called for an out-of-district judge to oversee the matter. A hearing has now been set for 10 a.m., Dec. 1 before Judge David Sweat.

The Madison County Board of Elections is named as a defendant in the case, along with Jennifer Drago and Wilder, though there are no specific allegations against Wilder.

West questions what Drago, a long-time advocate for the local refugee community, did to help others in the voting process. He wants to know who she brought to vote, whether they live at the address on their registration and whether voters needed assistance, as well as whether proper protocols were followed for those who did need help. He seeks to have the election results found void and the election re-run. He wants to verify that voters in question actually live in the district and that voters filed appropriate paperwork if they needed assistance.

West was not in Comer on election day due to a death in the family, but he said others brought concerns about the election to him. He said he was told that Drago brought voters to the polls in her personal vehicle throughout the day and went through the line with each voter, escorted them to the polling booth, “and while they were standing at the voting machine, she pointed out which candidate the voter should cast their vote.”

He said the information was reported to poll workers to Tracy Dean, chairperson of the Madison County Board of Elections.

“My goal in this action is to ensure that all voters and candidates in Comer were afforded a fair, honest election process,” wrote West in his complaint. “Clearly, it appears this was not the case. I hope that these concerns will be investigated thoroughly, and all parties will be interviewed. I view election fraud as a serious issue.”

Drago responded to the allegations this week.

“I live in the same district as Mr. Eddie West, District 4,” she said. “I was surprised that Mr. West did not approach me with his questions about citizens who have been living in Comer for the past five-plus years. That conversation could have given Mr. West a better understanding of the people who live in District 4 and other areas of Comer. The charges Mr. West has accused me of are groundless as all assistance provided to voters was in accordance with Georgia voting laws. I am confident that Michael Wilder will remain the legally elected winner of District 4.”

Wilder was named as a defendant in the case, though there were no allegations against him.

“My understanding is that I was named as a defendant only because the law requires all candidates be included as plaintiff or defendant to ensure they know about the petition,” said Wilder. “I believe the board of elections did their job with diligence and care, and Comer citizens exercised their proper right to vote. I look forward to the hearing to address this complaint so Comer can move forward knowing we have a fair and honest election process.”

Madison County attorney Mike Pruett filed a motion to dismiss the case on behalf of the Madison County Board of Elections, writing that West failed to introduce any factual evidence to support a case for a new election.

“Defendant (the board of elections) shows that petitioner (West) states only hearsay allegations (‘citizens reported that…’) of actions that ‘could have’ affected the election results, and that such allegations are insufficient as a matter of law to establish a valid contest of an election, the law requiring the petitioner to show ‘the primary, election, or runoff is so defective as to the nomination, office, or eligibility in contest as to place in doubt the result of the entire primary, election, or runoff for such nomination, office, or eligibility.'”

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(1) comment

Virginia Moss

This is right out of the Republican play book; grasp anything you can imagine and make noise about it, knowing it's not valid, in order to place doubt in people's minds and get them all riled up so as to further cement their base. This is not necessarily Mr. West's fault; no one knows whose idea this was just like no one knows what Ms. Drago said to any voter except her, those voters and anyone else who could understand their language. Hearsay is not evidence in law or court. So we are left wondering, unresolved, doubtful. That's a handy seed for whatever party decides to plant it. It's up to individual people of either persuasion to watch out for this kind of manipulation of the voting public.

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