It wasn’t that Danzey failed to win at polling places. Instead, it is the absentee ballots that, at least for now, doomed her political aspirations. There were 124 of them cast. Of those, Danzey’s name was marked on only five. Her opponent, incumbent commissioner Amos Newsome, was the choice on 119. When all ballots were tallied Ms. Danzey’s victory at the ballot boxes turned into narrow defeat.
Some people were left wondering if everything regarding the election was on the up and up. In fact, some have said they believe others fraudulently used their name to cast absentee ballots. While still others claim they were intimidated to vote for Newsome pointing to the commissioner’s longtime girlfriend, Olivia Reynolds, as the person doing some old-fashion political arm twisting.
Dr. Dansey---she’s a chiropractor--- and her supporters cried “foul” and three days after the August 6 election concerns were taken to District Attorney Doug Valeska. The veteran prosecutor turned the case over to the Houston County Sheriff’s Office and its Criminal Investigation Division. If---and it may be a big if---the probe determines votes were cast illegally that doesn’t necessarily mean Danzey would be declared the winner. It only would mean that in the eyes of law enforcement someone broke the law.
So, hedging her bets, Danzey turned to Anderson, one of a few attorneys in Alabama who specializes in election challenges. “It’s what I would like to do full time but, unfortunately, elections are held only once every four years so it would be hard to make a living,” said Anderson.
The attorney accepted the case and promptly filed a challenge to election results that gave Newsome apparent victory. “We’ve got to find at least 14 illegal votes which are a lot,” Anderson analyzed. “But, on the other hand, based on what surfaced so far and what we’ve seen in the lopsided amount of absentee votes things look suspect.”
Looking suspect is one thing---proving that votes are illegal another. “Election contests are very difficult,” Anderson said. “They’re very tough to prove and it should be because anytime you set aside a certified election it ought to be real tough to say somebody voted illegally. On the other hand, one our biggest rights is the right to vote and if somebody has been abusing this something should be done about it,” he said.
Newsome has repeatedly chosen not to comment on the matter even scurrying away from members of the media moments after he voted to certify the vote that, at least for the moment, gives him victory.
Does that make Amos Newsome guilty? No. Has anyone publicly accused the veteran city lawmaker of criminal activity? Hinted, maybe, but not accused. Is he just an astute politician who knows how to get people to fill out absentee ballots voting for him? Perhaps.
How long will it take for this matter to be resolved in court? Hard to say but time is of the essence since Newsome is scheduled to begin another term in just a few weeks.
Meanwhile, the criminal probe is not expected to be completed until sometime next month. Anderson stresses the election contest and the probe is unrelated. “We’ve got to be diligent in what we’re doing and let that take its course,” he said.
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