Fulton County Commissioner Robb Pitts has filed a lawsuit against the county and the commission chairman after losing by less than one percent in the elections last month, blaming the painfully close loss to the confusing wording and order of the ballot in the Democratic primary last month.
Pitts ran for commission chair but was defeated by to the current chair, John Eaves.
Pitts is petitioning the court to disregard the May election results and mandate the race is redone during the primary runoff in July.
He says voters were confused because the word “chairperson” did not appear on the ballot, and the race was listed last instead of first, as it’s appeared in other elections.
“That would be like putting the city of Atlanta mayor’s race in the middle or some place at the end with no designation as mayor,” Pitts said. “How confusing would that be?”
In a statement, Pitts outlined his grievances:
There was a 4,200 vote drop off in the race for chairman also thought to be, by [election consultant Gary] Smith, because of the ballot mislabeling and voter confusion. Commissioner Pitts believes that, “These 4,200 voters were disenfranchised in that they were either confused by the ballot or did not understand the District 7 contest was for the chairmanship of the Fulton County Board of Elections – the single most important local race on the ballot.” Mr. Smith’s research found the highest concentration of vote drop off was in Commission District 4 where 9.2% of the voters did not cast a ballot in the chairman’s race. Commission District 4 encompasses the inner city where there are voters may have less education and some of county’s poorest neighborhoods. District 4 is a majority minority district and accounts for 22% of the 4,200 vote drop off.
In response to the lawsuit, Fulton Commission Chairman Dr. John Eaves, the winner, dismisses Pitt’s claims as frivolous and vindictive.
“It is shocking that an elected official, in his final months in office, would sue his own legislative body, effectively distracting from the work of the Board of Commissioners and draining it of the resources needed to serve its constituents. I’m confident that the courts will see this for what it is: a shameless, selfish and misguided attempt at political relevance.”