By John Schaffner
Even before the balloting was certified from the very close Dec. 1 vote in the Atlanta mayoral race, Kasim Reed declared victory and started work on forming his government, naming Peter T. Aman as his chief operating officer and promising to name a new interim police chief while conducting a nation search for a permanent chief.
He had even asked his opponent in the runoff, City Councilwoman Mary Norwood to consider a position in his administration to help unite the city.
But not all was a slam dunk for Reed. On Dec. 8, Norwood formally requested a recount in the runoff election in which Reed was certified by Fulton County election officials as beating Norwood by 715 votes out of 84,383 votes cast.
(The recount was taking place as the Buckhead Reporter was going to press. Check our web site www.reporternewspapers.net for updates on the election.)
On Dec. 7 a group of Norwood supporters, calling themselves Citizens for Fair Atlanta Elections, asked Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel’s election division to investigate 1,314 people they claimed voted in the Nov. 3 general election who gave invalid addresses—mostly empty lots where government housing projects and apartment complexes once stood.
Just about every one of the addresses for those 1,314 alleged voters was from south Atlanta and northwest Atlanta neighborhoods, which Reed carried.
Not clear are whether or not all of them actually did vote on Nov. 3 and, if they did, how many might have also voted in the runoff. Fulton County elections chief Barry Garner doubts the claims of voter fraud, saying he found only 33 people on the group’s list that voted in the general election.
Regardless of the election outcome three things were perfectly clear from the voting:
–Buckhead voters failed to turn out in numbers high enough to get fellow Buckhead resident Norwood elected. For instance, while 10,703 of the 25,616 voters in Buckhead’s District 8 turned out for Norwood, only 7,011 of the 25,688 registered in District 7 voted the same way.
–Reed benefitted from an intense get-out-to-vote effort in the predominantly black areas of the city for the runoff, as well as picking up the support of many voters who previously had supported City Council President Lisa Borders in the Nov. 3 general election. After coming in third, Borders endorsed Reed.
–The Dec. 1 runoff election—even moreso than the Nov. 3 general election—indicated that Atlanta remains a racially divided city and the voting patterns supported that notion.
Predominantly black districts in the city voted for Reed and predominantly white districts (mainly Buckhead’s districts 7 and 8 and District 6, which is Midtown and Morningside/Virginia Highland) voted for Norwood. District 6 however only gave Norwood two-thirds of its 11,271 votes cast from 27,643 registered voters.
More than 56 percent of Reed’s runoff votes came from predominantly black districts, with 15.6 percent of his votes coming from white districts. Norwood got 62 percent of her vote from white districts and 14.5 percent from black districts.