State Rep. Dan Gasaway. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM
Photo: Jason Getz / AJC
Photo: Jason Getz / AJC

Georgia House incumbent contests 2-vote defeat

A judge has already ordered one do-over in the race for a Georgia House seat that’s become one of the most bizarre – and closest – legislative contests in recent state history. Now the Republican incumbent is asking for another re-do.

A day after a recount showed Republican Chris Erwin bested state Rep. Dan Gasaway by just two votes, the incumbent filed a petition seeking a new election with claims that more than a dozen people illegally voted because they lived outside the northeast Georgia district.

Among the residents listed in the complaint: Banks County Sheriff Carlton Speed and several of his relatives. He’s accused of owning a tract of property that’s mostly in a neighboring House district outside of Banks County.

In a statement, Speed called it a “frivolous lawsuit” and said Gasaway was relying on inaccurate mapping information. He said his house and land are squarely in Banks County, and that local officials who approved his voter registration information agree.

“My family and I live, attend church, go to school, own a chicken farm and work in Banks County,” said Speed, a second-term sheriff. “Speaking on behalf of my wife and children, we find it insulting and humiliating that Mr. Gasaway would attack our family.”

The petition, filed by Gasaway attorney Jake Evans, said the judge had little option other than to order another election.

“All 14 of these individuals were ineligible to vote in the election, and cast illegal votes in the election,” it read. “Only two votes decided the election. Fourteen is greater than two. Thus, 14 votes is sufficient to change or place in doubt the election’s result.”

The first repeat election was ordered by a judge after about 70 voters received ballots for the wrong districts in the May GOP primary. Gasaway trailed Erwin in that contest by 67 votes, prompting the judge to call for another election. No Democrats were on the ballot.

Erwin, meanwhile, has declared victory said he’s glad it has “finally reached a positive and fair conclusion.”

“Unfortunately, Dan Gasaway has once again decided to file a lawsuit after losing an election,” he said. “I guess he wants to run this same race for a third time to see if he can finally come out on top.”

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