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Martin wins commission seat, Baldwin can contest

LINDEN-George Baldwin needed six votes to qualify for a run-off with challenger Calvin Martin. Baldwin, the incumbent District 4 Marengo County Commissioner, ended up falling further behind — albeit just slightly — on Tuesday.

Probate Judge Cindy Neilson, along with Sheriff Jesse Langley and Circuit Clerk Rusty Nichols, opened the provisional ballots from the June 1 primary on Tuesday, and Baldwin’s only hope for earning another shot at his seat was to pick up six votes from the provisional ballots. (Provisional ballots are those cast by voters who were either not on the voters’ list or who didn’t have a proper ID at the polls on June 1.)

After the primary election, Martin enjoyed a 699-to-458 vote advantage over Baldwin. A third candidate, Trezzvant Hopson, picked up 234 votes in the primary.

With that total, Martin had 50.25 percent of the votes — barely enough to avoid a run-off with Baldwin. However, if Baldwin had earned six more votes, he would have forced a run-off with the challenger.

As they began to count, Langley reached into the ballot box and pulled out five provisional ballots and only one of those had a vote cast in the District 4 County Commission race. Nichols read the ballot and it was another vote for Martin.

With the extra vote, Martin’s overall lead in the race went to seven votes.

The result leaves Baldwin with two options: He can contest the vote and ask for a recount or accept defeat.

After learning that he had not picked up any new votes from the provisional ballots, Baldwin said he has not yet decided what, if any, action he’ll take next.

If Baldwin decides to contest the final tally, he must do so within 48 hours of the provisional ballot count.

“I’m currently undecided as to my next step in this election,” Baldwin said, “But, I would like to take this time to thank all of those district four residents that voted for me and those people that helped me during my campaign.”

Neilson said before a recount could take place, Baldwin would have to first file a formal contest on the election results.

She also said he currently has 48 hours to file a contest and then that contest must be accepted by the Democratic Party. If Baldwin cleared those hurdles, along with paying a fee for the contest, a recount would then take place.

Martin, who, for now, is the winner of the election, must sit back and wait to see if a contest comes from Baldwin. He said it feels good to know the people of District 4 were ready for a change.