Monday, January 5, 2009

2nd vote on Doraville annexation in judge’s hands

By April Hunt for the AJC
If a judge agrees, voters in three neighborhoods just outside Doraville will get to vote again next month on whether to join the northern DeKalb County city.

A new election on Jan. 27 would be a win for Eleanor Crane, a voter and poll worker who filed a petition in DeKalb Superior Court claiming that ballot problems marred the Nov. 4 vote. The annexation, which appeared to have succeeded at first, failed by 34 votes out of 1,138 cast.

“She just wants there to be a fair process,” said Dan Weber, a state senator and attorney who represented Crane in her case. “The board of election itself acknowledged there were irregularities.”

County spokeswoman Kristie Swink confirmed Tuesday that DeKalb had agreed to a special election.

Superior Court Judge Linda Warren Hunter is expected to review the election consent order as early as this week. If she does not sign off on the deal, the election date can be canceled and negotiations on Crane’s petition will resume.

Election supervisor Linda Latimore and her assistant director, Maxine Daniels, were out of town Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.

Election officials have acknowledged that they mistakenly left the annexation question off ballots in at least one precinct and that some mailed absentee ballots also did not include the question.

Under the proposal, Doraville would have absorbed Cherokee Hills, Oakcliff Estates and Sequoyah Woods, expanding its borders up to the new city of Dunwoody and boosting its population by about 65 percent, to 17,000 residents.

City officials expressed support for Crane’s petition but stopped short of issuing their own call for a new vote. The city council agreed to pay the $3,000 to $4,000 bill for a special election.

Elections officials published a call for a special election during Christmas week, in anticipation of an agreement.

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