Pitts files lawsuit to toss out Fulton chairman’s race results, force another vote

Pitts sues county election board over ‘ballot mislabeling error’


  • Courtesy Robb Pitts

In one of metro Atlanta’s narrowest 2014 primaries, Fulton County Commissioner Robb Pitts lost to incumbent Chairman John Eaves in the race to lead the county’s troubled government for the next four years. Despite a recount that upheld the initial results by a 303-vote margin, Pitts is demanding another vote in the chairman’s race.

Earlier this week, Pitts sued the county’s election board over a “ballot mislabeling error.” He alleges that the ballot did not have the phrase “chairperson,” or any other variation of the position’s name, which may have confused voters. Because of that, he claims ballot casters didn’t have the correction information about the position. In past elections, the chairman’s race had been described in a similar manner.

In a statement, Pitts’ explains how the ballot language might have affected the outcome of the chairman’s race:

Further, 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, Eaves attacked Pitts’ “frivolous lawsuit” as a tactic that would undermine public trust, hurt voter turnout in the future, and waste taxpayer dollars.

“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,” Eaves said in a statement.

Pitts is hoping for a judge to invalidate last month’s primary results and put the race on the July 22 primary run-off ballot. However, WABE reports that the ballots have already been prepped and, in some cases, distributed to absentee voters. That may dampen his plans to unseat Eaves.

Whoever emerges will face off against Republican candidate Earl Cooper in the general election this upcoming November.