Judge rules for election material examination

Published 11:16 pm Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Lanett judge has ruled to allow for the examination of several election materials after the first hearing for the Pike County District 6 election contest Thursday.

Oren Fannin, who filed the contest against his 2008 election opponent Karen Berry after he fell by just six votes in the District 6 Pike County Commission race, filed motions to have the polling list, voter registration list, affidavits and envelopes for absentee ballots examined in the district.

Judge Joel Holley, of Lannet, agreed to allow for the examination of these materials in the Pike County Courthouse Thursday.

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No date has been set, but the representing attorneys will choose a date to make copies of these items in open court and in the presence of election officials.

The contest comes after the Democrat candidate Fannin filed a lawsuit against his Republican opponent Berry, claiming she won through “illegal votes.”

Even after the hearing today, it is still unclear on what exactly Fannin based his claim.

“This is a strange way to do business, file the lawsuit before we get evidence,” said Joel Lee Williams, Fannin’s attorney. “We have some idea in mind, but we can’t tell anyone anything specific.”

Fannin said in an interview after the hearing he could not say what caused him to file the complaint in the first place.

But, the plaintiff will examine the 242 absentee envelopes, for the ballots cast in the district, as well as the polling lists and the voter registration lists for the six polling precincts for District 6.

Williams said, in addition, they will request from the county commission the minutes from the meeting where they made a district location changes and the map that was drawn from it.

Berry and her attorney Frank Ralph said they are still just as unsure as they were in the beginning of the case as to what they will be defending, but Fannin agreed to present them with evidence at least 10 days prior to the trial.

“We don’t know anything more than we did,” Berry said. “We are still very much in the dark.”