While Buckhead overwhelming voted for Mary Norwood in the Dec. 5 Atlanta mayoral runoff election, Keisha Lance Bottoms narrowly defeated her by about 700 votes. Bottoms declared victory late Dec. 5, but Norwood has called for a recount, a process that wouldn’t be completed for several days.
The recount can’t be officially requested until after the vote count is certified by county boards this weekend or early next week, and Norwood has up to 48 hours after certification to request the recount, Fulton County Elections Director Richard Barron said at a press conference Dec. 6. If Norwood does request a recount, it would be automatically granted because the difference in votes was less than one percent, Barron said.
Barron expects the Fulton County Board of Elections to certify the vote on Saturday, Dec. 9, or Monday, Dec. 11. The DeKalb County Board of Elections is scheduled to certify the vote at its board meeting Dec. 11, according to the board’s agenda.
Bottoms received 46,464 votes and Norwood received 45,705, according to unofficial election results.
Before the results can be certified, the 351 provisional ballots submitted in Fulton must be researched to ensure the voter is allowed to vote in the election, Barron said. Provisional votes include voters who voted outside of their assigned precinct or did not provide identification. The voter has until Friday at 5 p.m. to provide identification to the county to show they are able to vote in the election, Barron said.
Provisional votes are the only votes not included in the Fulton vote count that has been released, and Barron doesn’t know how many of those will count. The provisional votes can also be from outside the city of Atlanta in other parts of Fulton County and not count in the mayoral race, he said.
“I don’t know how many are outside the city, but they could be from anywhere in Fulton,” he said.
In his time working in elections, Barron said he has never seen any electronic votes change during a recount, although it is possible. All votes are submitted electronically except for absentee ballots, which are mailed, he said.
Norwood, a longtime Buckhead resident, lost the 2009 election to current Mayor Kasim Reed by 714 votes, an experience she alluded to in a statement to supporters late Dec. 5 when she called for a recount.
“I’ve done this before,” Norwood said. “The next few days are going to be all hands on deck and all analysis done, so we’re going to know that every single vote that has been cast is exactly reported out the way that it should be,” she added.
Like in the Nov. 7 election, almost all Buckhead precincts voted for Norwood. The same three that voted for Bottoms in the Nov. 7 election voted for her again in the runoff. Most precincts in Buckhead elected Norwood by over 80 percent and some by over 90 percent.
Fulton turnout decreased from the Nov. 7 election to the Dec. 5 runoff, according to unofficial election results. Turnout was 22.4 percent in the Nov. 7 election and decreased to 17.6 percent in the runoff. However, turnout in most Buckhead precincts was almost identical in both elections.