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Recount permitted in Atlanta mayor contest

Mary Norwood trails Kasim Reed by just 715 votes after last week's runoff. A recount could be finished by today. Meanwhile, her supporters file a complaint saying some voters gave invalid addresses.

December 09, 2009|By Richard Fausset

Reporting from Atlanta — A week after a hotly contested mayoral runoff in Atlanta, the second-place finisher on Tuesday requested a recount, while her supporters complained of potential voting irregularities.

City Councilwoman Mary Norwood trails former state Sen. Kasim Reed by 715 votes, or less than 1% of the total ballots cast -- the threshold for a recount under Georgia law.

Fulton County officials said the process would begin this morning and could be completed by the end of the day.

A group of Norwood's supporters also this week filed a complaint with the secretary of state's office. Citizens for Fair Atlanta Elections has asked Georgia officials to examine the runoff results to determine "if voters from nonexisting or unoccupied addresses were in fact eligible to vote."

In the November general election, the group has alleged, more than 1,300 ballots were cast listing addresses that "no longer exist." The group said the runoff result could be affected if similar patterns existed in the Dec. 1 vote.

Atlanta resident Paul Zucca, a member of the organization, said some addresses were from housing projects that had been bulldozed.

However, Fulton County's election chief, Barry Garner, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that only 33 voters in the general election had listed such addresses.

Matt Carrothers, a spokesman for Secretary of State Karen Handel, said her office had launched an investigation into the complaint but could not say how long it would take to complete. The results could be brought before the state election board, but Carrothers said any challenge to the election results would have to be brought up in a lawsuit filed with the county.

On Tuesday, Reed's attorney, Robert Highsmith, issued a statement declaring the election over and saying there was "absolutely nothing that could call Mayor-elect Reed's victory into doubt."

The candidates have been vying to replace Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, who will leave office in January due to term limits.

Norwood, who is white, offered a strong challenge to Reed, who is black, in a city that hasn't had a white mayor in a generation.

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