In Vinings, partial hand recount confirms cityhood results

Cityhood supporter Jimmy Eastham (center) and Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler (right) look on as election workers conduct a partial recount of the Vinings cityhood election Monday, June 6, 2022 in Marietta.

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Cityhood supporter Jimmy Eastham (center) and Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler (right) look on as election workers conduct a partial recount of the Vinings cityhood election Monday, June 6, 2022 in Marietta.

A partial recount of the Vinings cityhood vote exactly matched the tally produced by prior ballot scans, making a legal challenge to the May 24 election less likely.

At the request of cityhood supporters, Cobb election workers on Monday conducted a hand recount of the 993 paper ballots cast in Vinings’ largest precinct on Election Day.

With a small crowd of supporters, opponents and journalists looking on, the final count was identical to what was recorded in the officially certified results: 446 yes, 539 no and 8 ballots that didn’t vote on the referendum.

In total, the Vinings cityhood effort was defeated 1,592 to 1,280, or 55% to 45%.

That’s a difference of just 312 votes, but the 10 percentage point margin was too large to warrant a recount under Georgia election rules.

Nonetheless, Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler agreed to do one in order to instill confidence in the results, after mistakes by election administrators affected dozens of ballots — though not enough to change the outcome.

“We wanted to be transparent and to help the public to be able to see that there is an accuracy to what we do,” Eveler said. “It was an opportunity for us to demonstrate the accuracy of the system.”

The recount was not completely without drama. Eveler said election workers mistakenly left a bag containing half the ballots at the elections warehouse in Kennesaw. That led to a one-hour delay while the second batch was retrieved and delivered to the Marietta conference room where the count was being conducted.

Despite the hiccup, Jimmy Eastham, a leader of the Vinings cityhood campaign, praised Eveler for Monday’s audit. Eastham had requested the recount in light of reports out of DeKalb County that programming errors had caused hundreds of votes to go uncounted in its elections.

“I thought it was well done and transparent,” Eastham said. “I want to express gratitude to Janine for allowing all of us to watch and make sure that the machine count matched the actually recount of the ballots.”

The recount covered only the ballots cast on Election Day at the Cochise Riverview Club, the polling place for the Vinings 04 precinct. Eastham said he chose that precinct because it was the largest in the proposed city limits.

Eastham said cityhood supporters were still considering whether to challenge the election results in court, but Monday’s recount made it “less likely.”

“We got the answer we were looking for,” he said.