Montgomery Board of Elections to re-hear vote challenges

The Montgomery County Board of Elections has decided to hold a second hearing into vote challenges filed in the Nov. 5 municipal elections in Mount Gilead.

The challenges call into question three votes cast by members of the Montgomery family, who live in a house just off Emmaline St. Voting records show that the Montgomerys have traditionally been considered as living in town and eligible to vote in town elections, but the vote challenges filed by citizen Marsha Russell contend that the family actually lives outside of town.

County tax maps accessed by WMTG appear to support that claim, but the family’s Emmaline St. address has been certified as an in-town address in previous municipal elections, and elections director Martha Griego said it was verified again this time.

The Board of Elections held a hearing into the matter Nov. 12. Citizen Leon Turner spoke on behalf of the Montgomery family at the hearing, saying his primary goal was to clear the name of the Montgomery family against claims they had purposely participated in voter fraud.

The board voted unanimously to dismiss the challenges and include the votes in the official totals. Board members also had criticism for Mount Gilead Town Staff for what it viewed as erroneous information, though investigation by WMTG shows they are instances where address records and actual voter eligibility do not always agree, meaning this situation could repeat itself in the future with the current voter verification process.

Sources tell WMTG that, after yesterday’s hearing, grievances were lodged with the Board of Elections office because original complainant Marsha Russell and Town of Mount Gilead staff were not officially notified of the proceeding. A statement released yesterday by the Board said a decision was made “to re-hear the voter challenges … so that all participants can be properly notified and present to plead their case.” The hearing is set for Wed., Nov. 27, at 10 a.m. in Courtroom B at the Montgomery County Courthouse.

Because of the overall numbers, the inclusion or exclusion of the votes cannot affect the outcome of the election, but the matter may shed some light on problems with the current voter eligibility system.

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