Spencer files contest in council race

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 23, 2004

EUTAW – It’s a question of the numbers not quite adding up for District 1 Councilman David Spencer.

“If you take out the voter fraud, I should have won by one vote,” he said.

Spencer, a councilman for 20 years, was defeated by Trudy Vanable Cox in the Sept. 14 run-off election by a 144-71 margin. He has filed a contest to the election in Greene County Circuit Court alleging misconduct, fraud, or corruption on the part of election officials; illegal votes, names and other conduct calculated to prevent a fair, free and full exercise of the elective franchise; and inaccurate vote totals, not reconciled.

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Sitting at a table under his garage, Spencer laid out the numbers, and alleges that a systematic program of taking away votes was implemented.

That, coupled with a 10-voter discrepancy on total reports, led Spencer to file the contest to the election.

According to poll information, 215 votes were cast in the district’s box, but only 205 people actually voted.

“I know only 205 voted because I was the last one to vote in my precinct and I was number 205,” Spencer said.

Spencer contends the correct vote count should have been 129-128 in his favor, counting his 18 absentee votes and Cox’s 34 absentee votes.

His contention is that through a mathematical manipulation, votes were taken away from him and given to Cox, as well as a similar method used in the Aug. 24 election to skew numbers

across the slate of candidates.

He also said a change in the way absentees were handled could have contributed to voting inaccuracies. According to Spencer, City Clerk Peggy Stripland sealed the absentee voter list in the absentee box rather than attaching the list to the outside of the box as had been the common practice. That move did not allow poll workers to strike off the names of those voters who had turned in absentee ballots.

“They had no way of knowing if someone had already voted absentee,” Spencer said.

“The foundation of democracy rests on one man going to cast one vote,” he said. “If that doesn’t take place, then the process is fouled.”

Cox could not be reached for comment.