The trailing candidate in Atlanta’s mayoral election runoff has requested a recount after the certified results showed her opponent winning by less than 1 percent.
A lawyer for Mary Norwood on Tuesday sent a letter to the city clerk and to election officials in Fulton and DeKalb counties, which both include parts of Atlanta. The letter, signed by Norwood and lawyer Vincent Russo, requests a recount and asks election officials to investigate alleged discrepancies in the Dec. 5 runoff.
The two counties on Monday certified the results of the election. Keisha Lance Bottoms remains in the lead with 46,667, or 50.45 percent, and Mary Norwood has 45,835 votes, or 49.55 percent. The 832 votes that separate them amount to less than 1 percent of the 92,502 votes cast.
Election officials in both counties said the recounts would be done Thursday morning.
Norwood and Russo ask that the process include a recount of votes cast on voting machines during absentee voting and on election day, as well as a hand count of all paper ballots. Their letter says that “should minimize the potential for faulty vote counts by the optical scanning devices.”
They also ask that the counties review each voter certificate to make sure each voter provided the required identification.
The Norwood campaign has discovered some discrepancies and irregularities during its preliminary review of the election data, the letter says.
The letter asks election officials to reconsider the justification for accepting or rejecting provisional ballots, saying Norwood and her lawyers have heard of ballots in Fulton County that were rejected as “out of county” even though the voter lived in Atlanta.
At least one resident voted early but does not appear in records as having voted, and it appears others voted both during early voting and on election day, the letter says. Additionally, election data indicates some people who don’t live in the city voted in the runoff, and “many voters” complained they requested an absentee ballot but never received one, the letter says.
Norwood previously ran for mayor in 2009, when she lost to Mayor Kasim Reed by 714 votes. She requested a recount in that race, but it only produced one additional vote for her.
The runoff between the two city council members split Atlanta just about in half after a campaign marked by political grudges and allegations of corruption, and a turnout of less than 20 percent of the city’s roughly 500,000 residents.
If Bottoms’ lead holds through a recount, she would be Atlanta’s sixth consecutive black mayor since Maynard Jackson was elected in 1973. An upset by Norwood would give the city its first white mayor in more than 40 years and its first-ever white female mayor.