Marshall Orson asks for investigation, delayed certification of May 24 resultsDeKalb County School Board member Marshall Orson. Photo by Dean Hesse.
DeKalb County, GA — Marshall Orson has formally asked for an investigation into the District 2 County Commission race.
He’s also asking the Elections Board to delay the certification of the results of the May 24 election on Friday at 5 p.m.
“There is no rational basis for believing that there are not continuing issues with the results and the results should not be certified with the continuing existence of multiple substantive issues and concerns,” he wrote to the board. “Doing so would pose a substantial risk not only to the confidence the public will have in the overall election results from this race but could extend to the entire primary as well as the general election. To this end, I am further requesting that an independent review of this election take place, either pursuant to mechanisms available under statute or by other trustworthy sources.”
Orson went from being in the June 21 District 2 runoff to finishing in third place after the hand count of the race was released on June 1. If the Elections Board certifies the result of the hand count, the runoff will be between Michelle Long Spears – who initially came in third on Election Night – and Lauren Alexander.
As previous reporting by Decaturish has revealed, the election results answer some questions and raise more.
The hand count reduced the number of votes Orson received from 5,527 on Election Day to 3,928, a difference of roughly 1,600 votes. The VRE did not explain the 1,400 to 1,600 vote reduction for Orson when it released the hand count results. The variable total depends on whether you include counts from three precincts that were in the original count removed in the hand count: Avondale High, Johnson Estates and Woodward.
It’s not clear why those three precincts were removed from the hand count.
Initially, VRE resisted releasing the hand count after it was completed on May 31 at 12:30 a.m., citing concerns about accuracy. VRE released the hand count totals on Wednesday, June 1, following public pressure.
For a more detailed look at the precinct-level results, click here.
Orson said there is no reason to assume the results of the hand count are any more accurate than the results provided on Election Day, May 24.
“The assumption that the second count must be correct and the first count must be incorrect is not sound without an authoritative review of the process and the votes cast,” Orson wrote.
The DeKalb GOP chair has called for a hand count of all races. The DeKalb Democrats have not released any statement about the results or whether they agree with the request to delay certification and count votes in other races.
Here’s Orson’s full letter to the Elections Board:
Dear Board of Election Members:
I am writing this letter as a candidate in the above-referenced race. I am requesting that the Board not certify the results of this election and that it, at a minimum, order a recount pursuant to OCGA 21-2- 495 (a) as well as take other steps outlined below. Numerous issues have been revealed regarding this race and it is imperative that the public have confidence that the results accurately reflect the will of the voters. At this moment in time, the public cannot have such confidence. These issues include:
1. A failure to properly test the equipment in accordance with state law and regulations.
2. A failure of the equipment to satisfy the logic and accuracy testing requirements in advance of a recount.
3. A hand count initiated without properly following the stated legal requirements including securing a court order.
4. The existence of a potentially significant discrepancy between the vote totals from Election Day and vote totals from the hand count including an overall increase in the total number of votes cast.
5. Votes seemingly only declining from my vote count total and almost exclusively going to one other candidate. While it originally was suggested that this could be due to a positional issue, the fact that in 1imited circumstances my vote total went up suggests that the explanation of the problem is not sound.
6. The improper reporting of the hand count. For example, Briar Vista and Johnson Estates are
separate precincts but appear to be reported together. The same applies to the Cross Keys and Woodward precincts. These discrepancies call into question the accuracy of the hand count process and reporting.
7. The securing of votes by the withdrawn fourth candidate, apparently even when his name was not on a ballot, and the fact that such candidate appeared on some ballots but not others, posing a risk that multiple ballots for the same race were published.
8. An assumption that the paper ballots must be correct which is questionable if there were issues in the process in advance of those ballots being created.
9. The assumption that the second count must be correct and the first count must be incorrect is not sound without an authoritative review of the process and the votes cast. To this end, 1 am requesting that the Board order a recount under the procedures outlined under the above referenced statute. Further, lam requesting that all machines involved in the creation of the ballots be examined by Dominion and /or authoritative third parties to determine whether there was a risk that the paper ballots created did not reflect the votes cast.
10. A failure to provide a cogent and defensible explanation for the multiple discrepancies and issues in this race.
The foregoing outlines only some of the issues pertinent to this election. There is no rational basis for believing that there are not continuing issues with the results and the results should not be certified with the continuing existence of multiple substantive issues and concerns. Doing so would pose a substantial risk not only to the confidence the public will have in the overall election results from this race but could extend to the entire primary as well as the general election. To this end, I am further requesting that an independent review of this election take place, either pursuant to mechanisms available under statute or by other trustworthy sources.
Thank you for your consideration.
– Marshall D. Orson