Citing inconsistencies and a need for transparency to candidates in the Mobile municipal elections are trying to overturn the results, which were certified last week.
Chamyne Fortune Thompson, who finished third in the District 1 race, has asked for a recount and members of the Mobile City Council on Tuesday approved a $16,701 security to reimburse her if the election results change as a result of the recount.
Thompson requested the recount within the 48 hour timeframe after the election, which required by state law, Assistant City Clerk Mary Ann Merchant confirmed. However, the candidate has not paid the money the city says it would cost to recount the votes. When and if she does, the city will conduct the recount, City Clerk Lisa Carroll-Lambert said. The recount could happen as soon as Friday, or Monday, she said. It would cost roughly $3.54 per vote to recount.
The recount would include all five District 1 voting precincts, as well as all absentee ballots, council attorney Chris Arledge said. The absentee recount would consist of all of the ballots cast in that fashion citywide, he said, because they are not separated by district.
Thompson finished with a total of 1,080 votes during the Aug. 24 election to replace Councilman Fred Richardson. The total put her 240 votes behind second-place finisher Herman Thomas’s 1,320. Cory Penn finished first with 1,652, or 35 percent of the vote in the crowded field.
If the results remain the same, Penn and Thomas will compete in a runoff on Tuesday, Oct. 5.
In a phone interview on Tuesday, Thompson said she just wants to ensure “transparency” in the election.
“I’ve heard what everyone else has heard,” she said. “I just want to make sure things were done correctly.”
Specifically, Thompson’s team was concerned about the accuracy of the count because unofficial results gave her a higher number of total votes. She still trailed Thomas by more than 100 votes after absentee ballots were counted on election night.
District 2 candidate Reggie Hill has filed suit against Mayor Sandy Stimpson in state court alleging voter fraud. Hill is hoping the courts will force another vote. The suit was filed, Hill said, after he heard from a number of voters reporting software or internet problems which prevented some of the votes from counting. He said in the suit that the majority of the issues occurred east of Interstate 65, which includes all of District 2 and other minority-majority districts in the city.
Carroll-Lambert did confirm that spotty WiFi at Eichold-Mertz Elementary School between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. on election day did force poll workers to go into a power outage protocol.
The protocol means that since voters’ identities couldn’t be confirmed through an electronic system that their ballots were placed in a box underneath machines and could not be counted. Carroll-Lambert said the issue impacted 20 ballots before it was resolved. She confirmed those ballots were never counted.
In an interview with Lagniappe, Hill said the issues extend further than just a poor WiFi connection at a local school. He said he’s heard from a number of residents who’ve reported issues at other polling locations. For instance, Hill said at least one voter complained to him about broken down machines at Figures Community Center in District 1 at 7 p.m. on election night.
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