Williams will not seek recount in District 89

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Democratic challenger in the Alabama House District 89 race says he won’t seek a recount or contest the election results, despite what he called “irregularities” and “mistakes” in the voting process.

Joel Lee Williams announced his decision on Tuesday, the day after the state canvassing board certified the results in the election, declaring Rep. Alan Boothe, R-Troy, the winner by 84 votes, or .76 percent.

“I sincerely believe that an election is not simply about who can get the most votes – it is far more important how you get those votes – and with our effort, I am at peace,” Williams said from his law office on the Troy Square. “I love this state and I love the people where I live. So to spare the people of this district the uncertainty and grief of a protracted process, I will not seek a recount. I will not pursue an election contest.”

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Boothe said he was pleased with Williams’ decision. “It’s time to move forward,” Boothe said. “As for me, I look forward to serving the people of this district for the next four years.”

Williams said he while he was deeply disappointed to lose the election count, he was satisfied with the campaign process.

“I campaigned hard, I campaigned clean and I campaigned on the truth … and of that I’m proud,” he said. “In the end my message and my methods were not sufficient to persuade enough voters to give me a margin of victory that could withstand any irregularities that occurred. I blame no one.”

However, election officials in Dale County indicated that voters in at least one split precinct – the Level Plains precinct – were not given the correct ballots to allow them to vote in the District 89 race. According to Williams’ campaign, more than 200 voters were affected by that mistake. According to the results certified by the state, Boothe won Dale County, garnering 1,303 votes to Williams’ 570. Williams won Pike County, 4,866 to 4,217.

“I really think anything that happened in Dale County was a mistake,” Williams said, adding that four other precincts also were split and could have potentially been affected by the same issue.

He also said he believes other irregularities took place in Pike County regarding election procedures, but he does not plan to pursue any recourse at this time.

“Notwithstanding the reports of so many disturbing irregularities in Pike County and the mistakes in Dale County, I will not be filing any cause of action,” Williams said. “I can only trust the law, the process and the people entrusted with our voting rights to act on these issues.”

Pike County Probate Judge Wes Allen said he thought the election process went “well” in Pike County. “The election process went well and I am proud of all the poll workers and all of their hard work,” he said. “They work approximately 14 hours or more on election day and always do an outstanding job. It was a close election and I would like to congratulate both candidates.”

Boothe said he was unaware of any election issues, other than the Level Plains box in Ozark. “It’s unfortunate, but that’s the only one I heard about,” he said.

Williams said he has received encouragement to continue the fight, but instead is encouraging his supporters to “stand down.”

“It’s time to set these things aside and move beyond the campaign,” he said, adding he sought to campaign with the best interests of the voters in mind and he seeks to act that way now.

“I may be idealistic or just naïve, but I think when you run for office you’re not just out there to get the most votes. You’re offering yourself for public service, telling people that ‘I’m willing to work.’

“I wanted to win because I think we’re in serious need of a change in Montgomery right now,” he said. “And I have certain God-given talents that I think would have made me a good fit for this … This wasn’t a difficult decision to make, but it was a disappointing one … But I made the decision because I’m trying to be consistent, to practice what I preach.”

He added that he has received “overwhelming support” from Pike County and voters. “I’m so grateful and it’s been truly humbling,” he said. “But now I’m going to continue practicing law and return to my civic duties.”