DeKalb County confident election results will stand, emails to LaVista Hills revealed

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt November 7, 2015
DeKalb County Georgia. Source: Google Maps.

DeKalb County Georgia. Source: Google Maps.

This story has been updated. 

DeKalb County elections officials are confident that an investigation into the Nov. 3 LaVista Hills referendum will show there was no tampering with the result.

Decaturish has also obtained the email exchange between a political consultant for LaVista Hills and an election official questioning the result of Tuesday’s referendum. The emails were forwarded to us by Mary Kay Woodworth with the LaVista Hills Alliance.

The county certified the election results on Friday, one day after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation visited the office and confiscated equipment as part of an investigation into the vote. The investigation was ordered by the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office. Under state law, if there’s evidence of tampering that could’ve changed the outcome, the election would be invalidated. County Commissioner Nancy Jester is already calling for a new election.

Leonard Piazza, the second-highest ranking official at DeKalb Voter Registration and Elections Office, has been placed on administrative leave. He alleges it’s because he raised questions about the integrity of the Nov. 3 LaVista Hills referendum, which was defeated by 136 votes. His boss, Maxine Daniels, said he was placed on leave due to an unrelated personnel issue.

The county released a statement Friday saying the GBI investigation will show no wrongdoing.

“The DeKalb County Board of Registration and Elections’ sole purpose is to ensure the integrity of all elections in accordance with Georgia election code,” the county’s press release says. “We recognize the seriousness of the allegations made and are cooperating fully with the Secretary of State’s office as they investigate the claims made. We remain convinced that once the investigation is complete, the veracity of the November 2015 elections will be confirmed. Until the Secretary of State completes his investigation we have no further comment on this issue.”

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that there was allegedly a memory card that wasn’t secured at the Briarlake Elementary precinct. To read that story, click here. While split precincts led to some confusion on Tuesday’s vote, Briarlake was not one of them. Precinct-by-precinct results of the referendum show that Briarlake precinct was split almost down the middle, with 378 “Yes” votes to 313 “No” votes.

In an email to LaVista Hills political consultant Steve Schultz, Piazza alleged that he’d been placed on leave as retaliation for questioning the outcome of the election. “Upon questioning the integrity of the LaVista Hills Incorporation Ballot Question earlier today, I was dismissed from work and subsequently placed on paid administrative leave,” Piazza wrote.

Several readers have asked about the context of that email exchange. The emails Decaturish received show that Schultz was contacting Piazza about routine election matters, like making sure the organization’s filings were put in the right place, asking if they could watch the counting of ballots on election night and asking whether all the absentee ballots had been counted.

This is the full exchange between Piazza and Schultz:

From: Steve Schultz
Sent: Tuesday, October 27, 2015 12:54 PM
To: Piazza, Leonard
Subject: filing


It looks like the LaVista Hills Alliance filing was not put in the right area…there it was put under something for Mary Kay Woodworth

Can you check to see if there is a glitch someplace

Steve Schultz

On Oct 27, 2015 2:58 PM, “Piazza, Leonard” wrote:

Good afternoon Steve,

Been on and off the phone this afternoon with Mary Kay and this has been resolved, by and large.

We will however need a copy of your original RO (Committee Registration) form.

Thank you,


From: Steve Schultz 
Sent: Tuesday, October 27, 2015 3:00 PM
To: Piazza, Leonard
Subject: Re: filing

Thank you Leonard

I’ll get right on your request. If MK doesn’t have it I will get a copy from the state for you.

On Tue, Oct 27, 2015 at 3:00 PM, Piazza, Leonard wrote:

Super, thanks!

From: Steve Schultz
Sent: Tuesday, October 27, 2015 5:51 PM
To: Piazza, Leonard
Subject: Re: filing


Who would I talk to about getting a pass to watch the counting of the ballots election night?

On Fri, Oct 30, 2015 at 3:27 PM, Piazza, Leonard wrote:

Hi Steve,

I’m putting you over to Mary Frances Weeks (she’s copied) … she’ll give a run down on the rules.


Let me know if I can help with anything else,


On Nov 4, 2015, at 1:48 PM, Steve Schultz wrote:

It is my understanding that a large number of absentee ballots were not counted because of irregularities …Is this true? and if so how many? and can I get a list of these folks?

Thank you so much for your continued hard work

From: “Leonard Piazza” (Sent from personal email address)
Date: Nov 4, 2015 6:03 PM
Subject: Re: filing
To: “Steve Schultz”

Steve… Upon questioning the integrity of the LaVista Hills Incorporation Ballot Question earlier today, I was dismissed from work and subsequently placed on paid administrative leave. As such, I am unable to answer your questions at this time.

Sent from my iPhone

From: “Steve Schultz” 
Date: Nov 4, 2015 6:06 PM
Subject: Fwd: Re: filing
To: “Mary Kay Woodworth”, “Kevin Levitas”, “Gabriel Sterling”, “John Garst”


Editor’s note: Several of you have asked for more information regarding emails between Schultz and the Elections Division. Obtaining additional emails requires a records request which takes time to process. The election results are also part of an active investigation. Decaturish has requested to see any additional emails, but there’s no guarantee we’ll receive them before the investigation has concluded. 

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