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LaVista Hills vote investigation tied up in records dispute

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LaVista Hills vote investigation tied up in records dispute

Lavista Hills supporters sport I'm a Georgia Voter stickers. File Photo: Jonathan Phillips
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Lavista Hills supporters sport I’m a Georgia Voter stickers. File Photo: Jonathan Phillips

It’s been over a year since the Georgia Secretary of State’s office opened a probe into the Nov. 3, 2015 LaVista Hills referendum.

The vote failed by a narrow margin – 139 votes – but there were complaints about voting irregularities raised by a former DeKalb Voter Registration and Elections Office employee, Leonard Piazza.

The Secretary of State’s Office has long said it is unable to discuss the ongoing investigation, which has been underway for more than a year. Recently, the Atlanta Journal Constitution revisited the issue and found that the holdup involves a dispute between the Secretary of State’s Office and Superior Court Judge Tangela Barrie.

Elections Director Maxine Daniels said the records the state is looking for – tapes from the machines and printouts, among other items – are required to be turned over to Superior Court and are not available unless there’s a court order. She noted the original allegation involved an unsecured machine in Dunwoody, meaning that it had nothing to do with the LaVista Hills vote. She said a secured LaVista Hills card was taken, which is how LaVista Hills became involved.

Barrie told the AJC she hasn’t received a subpoena for the information and that she can’t turn over the records unless the Secretary of State’s office files the proper records to ask for them. The judge declined to comment when contacted by Decaturish.

“I’m just trying to protect the integrity of the procedure,” Barrie told the AJC.

To read the full story, click here.

Candice Broce, a spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s Office, said the records are required to finish the investigation.

“My understanding the court is not clear that they have the authority to compel the clerk officials to hand over the records,” she said. “We don’t expect a big revelation. That’s really it.”

She said typically the office does not have problems obtaining records in cases like this.

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