Almost 2 close to call
Pair of provisional ballots break Livingston, Lyon tie; Livingston to face Shipley in fall
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Ken Livingston picked up five provisional votes to Richard Lyon's three and emerged as the winner in the deadlocked runoff race for the Republican Nomination for Morgan County District 2 on Tuesday.
He will face unopposed Democratic nominee Ronnie Shipley in the Nov. 7 General Election.
Both Livingston and Lyons had 4,020 votes after a complete but unofficial tally of the votes cast in the July 18 Republican Primary. The vote Lyons received to tie the count was not properly marked and was rejected by a voting machine. It was set aside and later counted because election officials determined it was meant for Lyons.
The outcome of the race centered on 11 provisional ballots, nine of which were cast by absentee voters. The ballots were sealed in three boxes and placed in the hands of Morgan County Chief Deputy Sheriff Mike Corley for safekeeping. On separate dates, the box containing the absentee ballots was opened under a circuit judge's order. This was necessary to permit the Morgan County Board of Registrars to record information on the back of the sealed ballots for identification purposes.
In accordance with state voting law, Tuesday at noon was the appointed time for a panel of election officials consisting of Morgan County Probate Judge Bobby Day, Sheriff Greg Bartlett and Circuit Court Clerk John Pat Orr, with the assistance of the Board of Registrars, to meet and certify the results of the election In front of Judge Day's packed fifth floor courtroom and in the presence of the two candidates, the provisional ballots were opened, read aloud and counted.
One of the ballots, which was cast at Precinct 8-1 (Lacey's Spring School) was rejected because the person who cast it should have voted at another precinct, according to Adonis Bailey, chairman of the Board of Registrars.
"We knew about it on election day and advised the voter to go to the proper precinct to vote, but she insisted on voting a provisional ballot. Such votes are not allowed under state law," Bailey said.
"The other 10 ballots have been verified and our work has been done," she told the election board.
Judged Day instructed Chief Corley to open the boxes and produce the ballots. They were opened one by one by Orr and all agreed that 10 ballots were present. The ballots were then counted orally in order from top to bottom. The commission race was next to last on the ballot.
Livingston received the first five votes counted, Lyons was credited with the next three and neither received a vote on the last two ballots. The final count in the race was 4,225 votes for Livingston and 4,223 votes for Lyons.
Both Livingston and Lyons sat together on the second row in the courtroom and watched and listened to the 30-minute final vote tally with little emotion.
Despite this loss, Lyons, who was appointed to the post by Gov. Bob Riley, said serving on the commission for the past 21 months has been a good learning experience.
"I'm glad I got the appointment," he said. "I said then I would serve to county with honesty and integrity and I have tried to live up to that. I congratulate Mr. Livingston and would urge all Morgan County voters to go out and vote because one vote does make a difference."
Livingston echoed the importance of voting.
"It's a shame more people don't vote. I hope the voters will get a lesson from this and go vote in November," he said. "I want to thank Mr. Lyons for a good clean race."
Had Lyons and Livingston been tied after the provisional ballots were counted the selection of a nominee would have been in the hands of the Morgan County Republican Executive Committee.
"The chairman Clay Marlowe has the authority to make such a decision or he would have looked to the committee for a recommendation, committee member Jim O'Hara said.
"I'm glad it over and we don't have to worry about choosing the nominee," Bill Wood, another committee member, said.