Greensboro vote inspection rescheduled

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 19, 2005

GREENSBORO-An inspection of challenged ballots from the 2004 Greensboro mayor’s race will not conclude until next week after Friday’s inspections failed to complete the process. The investigation of absentee ballots will resume on Tuesday July 26 in Montgomery.

The investigation is regarding last September’s runoff race between Greensboro mayoral candidate Vanessa Hill and current mayor Johnny B. Washington. Hill asked for an investigation of the votes when an unusual number of absentee ballots were cast.

Hill’s attorney WalterBraswell has been working with Washington’s attorney William Pompey and appointed special master James H. Anderson to try to determine whether the votes were cast legally. Montgomery County Circuit Judge William Shashy is presiding over the election contest.

Representatives of the Attorney General’s office have brought in ballots and election material in each day for the parties to examine. Braswell said they were making progress, but still had a long way to go.

“We’ve got about 1,600 to 1,700 we have to examine,” Braswell said. “We were able to narrow it down some, but we probably have another full day ahead of us.”

Braswell said there could be two more days of inspections depending on how quickly they were able to work next week. He said there are several aspects of the ballots that must be examined which make it a very slow process.

“For each absentee ballot there is a lot to be covered,” Braswell said. “We have to look at the application, the envelope it all came in, the identification that accompanied the ballot and the ballot itself.”

Once the opposing parties examine the ballots they exchange them and continue the process with another set. Braswell said they normally view about 20 at a time.

Viewing the ballots in sets of 20 does cause some problems in detecting inconsistencies, but Braswell said it has not kept them from noticing some trends that support their argument.

“We have seen enough to confirm our suspicions,” Braswell said. “We have seen ballots that appear with the same witness with different handwriting and different addresses.”

Current Greensboro Mayor Johnny Washington was the winner of last September’s runoff over by less than 100 votes prompting Hill to contest the outcome. Hill contested on the basis that Washington had received illegal absentee votes. Hill has challenged the legality of 186 absentee votes.

The parties are to return to Anderson’s office at 8:30 a.m. on July 26 to continue the inspection.