CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. - A complaint filed with the state and through the Clayton County Superior Court alleges, among many things, that candidates asked people to vote for them in exchange for alcohol.
The petition to throw out Election Day results was filed by Tommy Smith, who lost his Forest Park council seat in Tuesday’s election. He sent the complaint and his evidence to the state earlier this week before filing a petition in court Friday morning.
“It’s easy to swallow a loss. But when you know what’s going on -- they knew they won the race before they even started counting the ballots,” Smith said. “To me, something has to be done and this is my course of action.”
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Among the allegations is that two candidates, including one who defeated Smith in the race, offered alcohol to residents of a low-income apartment complex before taking them to the polls.
Bernard Bloodworth and several other neighbors denied the allegations.
“No, no, no,” said Bloodworth. “I talked to those people.”
Bloodworth said he remembered the candidates coming by and asking for support during early voting, as well as the alcohol, but the drinks didn’t come from the candidates.
“We was drinking, true enough,” said Bloodworth. "I’m going to admit to that, but when she (a candidate) came up, I asked everyone to remove that alcohol away from them in the presence of them.”
Bloodworth said the women asked neighbors to pass out flyers and a separate car arrived to take a handful of residents to the polls.
“She did not offer us anything and I’m not going to stand here and lie and say that she did,” said Bloodworth.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr tried to find the man cited in Smith’s complaint as a witness to the exchange, but found out the man had not lived in the complex for nearly a year.
Smith also accused another candidate of campaigning too close to a polling site. He provided pictures to Channel 2 and the state.
Other allegations against the Forest Park Elections Superintendent include using racial epithets and not performing Election Day duties properly, and there’s an accusation of mysterious absentee votes propping up candidates.
“I’m a victim of this twice,” said Smith, as he became teary-eyed. “I was in a runoff about five years ago and I was the front-runner. Then, all of a sudden absentees started falling in.”
On Friday afternoon, state officials told Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Nicole Carr that they’re reviewing the complaint but have not opened an investigation at this point.
Carr reached out to each of the four candidates and the Elections superintendent named as defendants in the complaint. One candidate did not return messages.
Councilwoman Kimberly James said, "In response to the allegations by Mr. Smith, I would like to say that I maintain my integrity as a Christian believer and I pray that he find peace in the will of God and the will of the people of this great city."
Angelyne Butler, the woman who won the mayoral race by a landslide, declined to comment on the record because she had not been served with the complaint when Carr called.
Elections Superintendent Lois Wright also declined to comment in detail for the same reason, but told Carr she ran a clean Election Day.
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