CHALLENGE: Lois Fields: Voters used wrong ballots in Akron
Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 10, 2004
GREENSBORO- On Wednesday, Hale County Commissioner Lois Fields officially challenged her defeat to Eligah Knox and the results from the June 2 election.
Fields is challenging the results based on irregular voting numbers in the City of Akron from the election. She has also filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department in Selma to investigate the results from Akron based on only one ballot being issued to citizens, when there should have been more.
“I’ve officially made a challenge that the election held June 1 were unfair and the Hale County Probate Judge Leland Avery, who is the chief election official issued only one ballot or informed the workers to issue only one ballot in Akron,” Fields said, “Therefore, not only did District two vote during the election, but Districts one, four also voted, so the results are not a true representation of the district.”
Eligah Knox defeated Fields on June 2, 2004 by a total of 111 votes, 711-600. Fields said she doesn’t think of herself as having lost the race due to these wrong numbers.
“I don’t consider myself a sore loser because I’m not a loser,” Fields said.
Fields called a special press conference on Wednesday to announce her intentions to possibly contest the results from the June 2 election. She, along with U.S. Representative Bobby Singleton stated their case as to why they felt the election results were wrong.
“We have concerns about the number of voters in Akron that voted in Lois Field’s district race,” Singleton said.
He said 252 people that lived in Akron voted, 218 for Knox and 34 for Fields in the Hale County Commissioner District two election on June 2. He also said of those 252 people, they have already found 84 people that should not have voted on the district two ballots.
“We are certain of 84 people that voted in the District two that don’t live there,” Singleton said, “There’s no telling how many people there may have been that voted wrong.”
He said she has asked Avery for the voter’s list and the sign in sheets from the three boxes that were held at the Akron City Hall. He also said these items have yet to be produced and she can’t fully enter a contest until she has these items.
“Avery said he didn’t know where the list was, when we asked him for it,” Fields said.
She said she told him to call the inspector of the Akron boxes Robert Ramey and ask him want happened to the lists. She said he was going to call Ramey, when he had some free time.
“Ramey is a very experienced inspector,” Singleton said, “He’s been doing them for the past three decades, why would he not put the lists in the boxes.”
She said this same thing happened back in 2000, when Avery and Sheriff Larry Johnson ran for election. She also said there was lists missing and other items that couldn’t be found.
After her press conference, Avery said they still haven’t been able to find the lists. He also said he still hadn’t called Ramey to see if he knew what happened to them.
“I placed a call to the Secretary of the State to let him know what the problem is,” Avery said, “I haven’t spoken to him in person, just left a message.”
He said he knew of at least 43 people that had voted on the wrong ballots, but not enough to make a difference in the election. Avery would come to see that number grow to around 100 people that received the wrong ballots.
“We went through the voter’s list that the Hale County Board of Registrars has and found around 100 people that voted wrong,” Avery said, “Still not enough to have an impact on the election.”
He said the boxes with the ballots are in the Sheriff’s Office, but they still haven’t been able to find the voter’s list that Fields needs. He went into the sheriff’s office and Sheriff Johnson, Hale County Circuit Clerk Gay Nell Tinker, and himself started to go through the boxes again looking for that elusive list.
“Its just not here,” Avery said.
Tinker said this is just like 2000s elections all over again. She also said when the votes were turned into four envelopes containing the different lists were turned in also.
“I went up to the courtroom, which has been locked since the day after elections were held to get the votes,” Tinker said, “But when I got inside the courtroom, I found two of the four envelopes laying opened in a chair.”
She said the two envelopes clearly state they are from Akron 2-2B, which are the districts in question by Fields and they are not to be open unless there is a contest of the election. She also said none of the stuff from Akron is here, not even the box containing the ballots.
“The box of ballots from Akron isn’t in the sheriff’s office,” Tinker said, “Its not in this courthouse.”