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Judge overturns Greensboro mayor’s election

David Goodwin / Managing Editor

After finding that 162 votes in the 2004 Greensboro mayor’s race were cast illegally, Hale County Circuit Judge William Shashy set aside the election Greensboro mayor J.B. Washington Monday, and declared challenger Vanessa Hill the rightful winner.

After throwing out 162 absentee ballots for a variety of reason – including forgery, lack of voter identification and absence of postmarks – Shashy declared Hill the winner of the long-disputed Sept. 14, 2004 election, 664-614.

Hill had only received second- and third-hand reports of the decision Monday afternoon, but said, “If indeed that is so, I congratulate the people of Greensboro.”

“I hope my supporters, as well as those who didn’t support me, will work together to make Greensboro a more pleasant place to live and to help it grow for the people,” she said.

Hill’s attorney, Walter Braswell of Birmingham, credited the victory to a network of volunteers in Greensboro and throughout the state who refused to allow the election to be stolen.

“We had confidence that when we were able to show what the facts were in this election that there would be no doubt who was really chosen by the majority of Greensboro voters,” Braswell said in an e-mail Monday night.

Neither Washington nor his attorney, Camden lawyer William Pompey, could be reached for comment. It is not yet known whether Washington will appeal the decision or when Hill would assume the duties of Greensboro mayor.

Braswell credited the legal victory to a grassroots movement of volunteers assembled under the name Democracy Defense League. The DDL held numerous public meetings and rallies to keep the legal battle at the forefront of residents’ minds.

“This shows what volunteers who kept their faith in ‘the system’ can accomplish,” Braswell said. “This effort was the essence of ‘grassroots democracy’ and commitment to this community.”

Perry Beasley, co-chairman of the DDL, said Shashy’s decision was “great.”

“Congratulations are in order to all Democracy Defense League members who, in their individual capacities, worked so hard and diligently to see that an honest election took place in Greensboro,” he said.

Based on the report of Special Master James H. Anderson, who solicited testimony from handwriting and elections analysts in his examination of the case, Shashy threw out 148 Washington ballots and eight ballots cast for Hill

Of those thrown out, 18 Washington votes were declared forgeries. The Hill ballots were thrown out due to improper voter ID.

– david.goodwin@demopolistimes.com