Fannin files contest in District 6 election, cites ‘illegal votes’

Published 9:29 pm Monday, December 1, 2008

And Pike County Commission’s District 6 election goes on.

After weeks of votes too close to call, provisional ballots that still didn’t secure the election and a recount, Republican Karen Berry was declared the winner of the open seat in the Nov. 4 election.

Now, her opponent Oren Fannin has filed a contest.

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Fannin, who fell to Berry by just six votes in the final count, 1,391 to 1,385, filed a lawsuit in the Pike County Circuit Court claiming, “illegal votes were given to Karen Berry.”

Fannin could not be reached for comment Monday, but according in the court file, he said he would lead the votes had Berry not incurred these illegal votes.

“If such illegal votes were taken from Karen Berry, (it) would reduce the number of legal votes given to Karen Berry below the number of legal votes given to Oren Fannin for office,” read the court document filed Nov. 21.

Fannin’s attorney Joel Lee Williams, who represents the Democrat party, said he would not discuss the case yet.

“It’s really too early to say anything,” Williams said.

Berry also said she wouldn’t comment on the case, and Pike County Attorney Allen Jones, who represents the commission, could not be reached prior to press time.

Though Fannin did not say how Berry is allegedly in violation of election laws, Rob Johnston, an election attorney for the Secretary of State, said election contests can be filed for several reasons.

If an elected official was not eligible to be voted in at the time of election, if there are illegal votes or bribes or if there was misconduct, fraud or corruption by any official involved, a contest can be filed, Johnston said.

Johnston said the timeline for the case to reach a verdict varies depending on the court, though they typically move quickly.

Once the verdict is reached in local courts, Johnston said he isn’t sure exactly what would happen if Fannin came out victorious. Fannin could be appointed or a special election could be required.