District 1 tied, decided; now tied againPublished 12:05pm Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Alexander City’s District 1 almost got a new councilman Tuesday.
But not quite.
Bobby Tapley and Michael Ransaw finished in a dead heat for the District 1 city council seat in last Tuesday’s municipal election, with both candidates tallying 343 votes.
This Tuesday at noon, during a special called meeting, City Clerk Harriett Scott opened and counted a dozen provisional ballots from last week’s election and found four from District 1.
All were cast for Tapley.
“The absentee ballot is for when … somebody’s not able to go to the polling place. A provisional ballot is when they go to the polling place and their name is not on the list, but it’s on the master voters list in another district,” Scott explained.
For a time, it appeared Tapley was the duly elected councilman based on the provisional ballots and the council certified the election results by a vote of 4-1.
But after examining each District 1 ballot, Scott realized that none of the four provisional ballots contained any of the required paperwork.
After the council meeting, Scott contacted the Board of Registrars Chair Marjorie Archer to seek out the documentation.
The Board of Registrars subsequently sent a memorandum to the city that read, “Dear Ms. Scott: The ballots in District One at Cooper Center were first marked approved, but after further verifying, it was found that there were no provisional forms completed to verify the voter’s (sic) eligibility. Therefore, none of the provisional ballots from District One should be counted.”
Archer said this is her first time to work a municipal election.
“I initially said they needed to be counted, but when I looked back they had insufficient documentation,” Archer said. “They didn’t fill out the provisional forms required to vote.”
However, since the city council had already certified the election results and declared Tapley the winner based on the provisional ballot count – before it was determined that the provisional ballots were not valid – the city is back to square one.
“This is unfortunate for everyone, especially the two candidates. It’s curable – we just haven’t decided which way to cure it yet,” said City Attorney Larkin Radney. “Obviously the losing candidate can request a recount in which the votes that were erroneously counted wouldn’t be counted again.
“The other method may involve city action,” Radney continued. “It could be that the city rescinds its certification and recertifies (the results). We’ll do what is simplest and least burdensome on the candidates. These are uncharted waters.”
Both Tapley and Ransaw supported having a runoff election in the district and said they hoped the situation would be sorted out as soon as possible.
“It’s just been a rollercoaster ride today – a lot of ups and downs. I hate all the confusion that’s happened, but I hope the people that turned out before to vote for me turn out again,” Tapley said, assuming that a runoff will determine the District 1 winner. “And hopefully I can gain a few more supporters along the way.”
Ransaw said, “People make mistakes, which I can understand. I’m a person who wants everything done fairly. As long as it’s done fairly, I’m more than willing to accept defeat. Bobby and myself wanted the right thing to be done, so whatever they decide after this we’ll go forward with it. I don’t want anyone to think we have any hard feelings against the city government.”
Radney said he should make a recommendation to the city by Wednesday morning as to how to move forward.
“We are working with our attorney, the League of Municipalities and the attorney general’s office,” said Mayor Barbara Young. “We’re going to see it’s done right. We want everybody treated fairly.”