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J.R. Fisher is prepared to challenge the results of the Goodman mayoral race.

Fisher said he stayed at the McDonald County Courthouse late on Tuesday, April 2, awaiting results. The write-in candidate says he was told that incumbent Greg Richmond received 50 votes and he had 48. Fisher said he asked how many had been thrown out. Approximately 13 were disqualified because the name was misspelled or the circle on the ballot wasn't filled in properly, he said.

"When I asked why they were removed, I was told some were misspelled and some didn't color in the oval," Fisher said. "The clerk did say it is about the voter's intent, so I called the Secretary of State elections division integrity unit and they, too, said it is about voter intent but can't do anything until it is certified," he said.

"The county and state both stated the county just counts the votes, and Goodman will have to make the decision on how to handle it; but after that decision, then I could contest that decision," he said.

Fisher said the Goodman City Council has until April 16 to certify the election results.

"If they don't acknowledge the 13 votes of mine that were removed and give the election to Greg, then I will contest and take whatever steps necessary to get everything out in the open," Fisher said.

Fisher said he doesn't regret running as a write-in candidate. He believes the Goodman community wants to see him elected as mayor.

"I think the results speak for themselves. If I can get the votes reinstated and win the election with write-in votes, it really drives home how bad the community wants it," Fisher said.

McDonald County Clerk Kim Bell said her office holds the election, certifies the election results and then sends the certification letter to each party. Her office has already certified the results and sent a letter to each entity, she said.

Each entity then reviews the results and decides how or when to proceed, she said.

Though she does not have the specific number of votes that were disqualified, she said she took appropriate measures to have on hand a special team to review results.

"I knew it was going to be a heated race, a close race," she said. The machine that reads the ballots is programmed to look for filled-in ovals. When the machine reads a filled-in oval, it drops the ballot in the "write-in" bin. The machine cannot read write-in names, she added.

The special team that was present at the courthouse on election night performed a manual recount of the ballots. The team helped determine which ballots were valid, based on the information that was written in, she said.

The next step is for each entity to decide how to move forward, she said.

If Fisher decides to contest the results, he will have to petition the circuit court, she said.

By law, Bell has to adhere to certain statutes. She said she has no interest in who wins the races. Rather, she strives to uphold the law and present the fairest election possible.

"I do the best job I can to maintain the integrity of the election," Bell said.

Goodman Mayor Greg Richmond said Goodman City Clerk Karla McNorton will read all the Goodman election results at the next city council meeting, set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 16.

After the election results are read, city council members will have the option to make a motion to accept the results and vote on that issue. After that, aldermen and the mayor will be sworn in, he said.

Richmond said he understands the results could be challenged.

"Mr. Fisher certainly has every right to contest the results," Richmond said.

General News on 04/11/2019

Print Headline: Goodman Mayoral Race May Be Contested

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