Michael Julian Bond, shown speaking at an April 2017 press conference about the English Avenue and VIne City area,  was certified Saturday as the winner of his at-large Atlanta City Council seat after a recount on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. 
Photo: Henry P. Taylor / AJC file
Photo: Henry P. Taylor / AJC file

Certified recount gives Atlanta City Council post to Bond

Challenger’s attorney on legal action: ‘We’ll see’

After a recount of votes cast in a race for at-large Atlanta City Council seat, Fulton County election authorities officially certified the results that showed incumbent Michael Julian Bond narrowly defeating challenger Courtney English.

But the contest may not be over.

The Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections’ unanimous vote Saturday to certify the results came after English’s attorney, David B. Dove, objected.

English had initially requested a recount, but on Monday when the board first certified the results, it looked like neither candidate had received a majority. That’s because the board initially certified votes for write-in candidates.

Without a majority of votes for either candidate, the race would head to a runoff election. English promptly withdrew the request. But on Friday, Bond’s attorney, Robert Highsmith, argued at a press conference that state law only allows write-in votes to count if they are for a certified write-in candidate.

There was no such candidate in the race.

Also on Friday, the Fulton County election board announced it was moving ahead with the recount. In a statement, the board said there was no provision under state law that allowed the process to stop after it had been initiated.

Courtney English lost the at-large Atlanta City Council seat by less than 400 votes. A recount completed on Friday and certified on Saturday gave him three more votes.
Photo: Bob Andres / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Dove on Saturday told the board it should have rejected English’s request for a recount. Under state law, the board can only consider recount requests from candidates ineligible for runoffs. Monday’s certified results made both candidates eligible.

“On the basis of the certified returns on Monday, no candidate received 50 percent of the vote,” Dove said.

He also said the board could not unilaterally order a re-certification of the votes or a recount.

Without a recount, it’s not clear whether the board would have been able to recertify the vote. About 80,000 people cast ballots in the race. English lost by less than 400. The recount gave him an additional three votes.

After the hearing, Dove declined to describe any additional action English might take.

Asked if he was heading to court, Dove said: “We’ll see.”

Until recently Dove served as chief of staff to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, whose agency oversees elections in the state.

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