Election overcomes power outages

Even a power outage that left two precincts without power for about two hours on Election Day did not keep Walker County residents from voting during last week’s election.

Of the county’s 40,336 registered voters, 22,105 — 54.8 percent — cast ballots either by advance and absentee voting or by going to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Electric power to the LaFayette Senior Center and the Center Post polling sites was disrupted due a crash on Shattuck Industrial Boulevard involving a tractor-trailer rig and a compact car that damaged a utility pole.

“We were able to continue voting because the battery backup in the voting machines worked,” elections office administrative assistant Danielle Montgomery said.

Incumbents Sheriff Steve Wilson and Commissioner Bebe Heiskell were re-elected by solid majorities.

Wilson defeated Tim Westbrook, a Democrat, by a nearly 4-1 margin, gaining 17,276 votes to the challenger’s 4,167 votes.

Heisekell won her fourth four-year term as the county’s sole commissioner by collecting 13,380 votes, about 60 percent of the ballots cast in that race.

Challenger Ales Campbell, who ran as a write-in candidate, was awarded a total of 5,726 votes.

State law mandates that votes can only be awarded candidates who have filed necessary paperwork to meet requirements for the office they seek, which Campbell did do.

Georgia code requires an independent panel determine the “intent of the voter” when deciding whether or not a vote counts, meaning that minor misspellings of a candidate’s name do not disqualify that ballot.

About 307 votes for unnamed or fictional characters — “none of the above,” “Mickey Mouse” or “myself” — were rejected, according to election officials.

Another local race found two Dade County residents, Republican John Deffenbaugh and Democrat Thomas McMahan, vying to represent House District 1, which includes Walker County, in the state Legislature.

Deffenbaugh was the winner by a count of 7,576 to 3,155 in Walker County and the overall winner by a margin of 11,168 to 5,140.

Fifty-six percent of Walker County voters approved Referendum 1, a statewide initiative that allows charter schools being regulated by a state commission rather than locally elected school boards.

Provisional ballots were reviewed and ballots from overseas were accepted until the election office closed last Friday afternoon. Results were then certified locally and taken Tuesday to the Georgia State Patrol office in LaFayette to ensure their safe transit to Atlanta for state certification.


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