James Anderson, the attorney who represents Danzey, said Newsome has five days to respond to the complaint seeking to overturn the election results once he’s served the paperwork filed August 19. Houston County Sheriff Andy Hughes said Newsome was served Tuesday. He said the delay was due to the paperwork given his department not listing an exact address for the commissioner but only the name of a street.
“We have hundreds of papers to serve every month and need to have specific addresses. It’s likely our process servers didn’t even recognize the name on it because of the volume of paperwork they handle,” he said.
At issue is absentee votes cast in the August 6 election. Newsome received 119 of those votes while Danzey garnered only five. The final tally showed Newsome received 362 votes to 348 for Danzey.
“We’ve got to find at least 14 illegal votes which is a lot,” Anderson said. “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.”
He admits the case may not be heard before October 1 when Newsome begins is fourth term as commissioner. Anderson said after Newsome responds to the complaint a conference will likely be held to, among other things, set a trial date. “I doubt it will go before a judge before October 1,” he said.
Meanwhile, it seems even less likely the criminal probe will be resolved by then. “We’re assigning different investigators to go talk to people who voted absentee,” said Houston County Sheriff Andy Hughes.
“We’re going to ask them what the signed and about the process of them voting absentee.” The sheriff said a checklist has been developed to make sure the investigation is thorough and everyone is asked all questions that need to be answered.
Hughes said officers paired up Tuesday afternoon to question those who cast an absentee ballot in the election. The department’s radio traffic revealed several stops were made by investigators in District Two.
Hughes said he hopes the probe will be completed this month but can’t promise that will happen. “Our job is to conduct the best investigation possible and that’s what we’re going to do no matter how long it takes,” he said.
The sheriff said the findings will be turned over the District Attorney Doug Valeska who will decide if there is sufficient reason to take the matter before a grand jury. Houston County Circuit Clerk Carla Woodall said the next session will be held the week of October 7.
Even if it determined Newsome violated the law---and nobody has publicly accused him of that----it would not make Danzey the winner.