Norris asks for recount in Gantt

Published 11:44 pm Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Gantt mayoral candidate Foster Norris made good Monday on his promise to request a recount of the votes cast during last week’s runoff election, in which Melissa “Missy” Grissett was elected the town’s new mayor.

Grissett received 58 votes, or 57 percent of the 102 votes cast, while Norris received 44 votes.

On Monday, Norris made his request to Gantt’s town council, which set a $200 fee for the 102-vote recount and set a date of tonight at 6:30 p.m. for the event. On Tuesday, Norris was informed the recount would cost $2,675.

On Wednesday, Norris submitted a letter, which said he believed the town should incur the remaining cost since they had agreed to perform the recount at a set price.

Sec. 11-46-55 of the Code of Alabama states the petitioner, which is Norris, must be prepared to pay the cost of the recount and must be required to give security to cover these costs in an amount as determined by the municipal governing body based upon an estimate of actual costs. The recount must be conducted under the supervision of a trained and certified poll official.

Norris said the $200 fee — which included $75 for both the poll worker and council representative and $50 for the clerk to serve as absentee ballot clerk — that he agreed to pay would cover the cost for a hand count of the ballots.

However, both the town clerk and an attorney with the elections division of the Alabama Secretary of State’s office said the recount must be conducted in the manner in which the original election was held. In this case, it should be conducted through the use of an electronic voting machine.

“That’s why it costs $2,600 because the machine has be brought down from Montgomery,” clerk Christy Cartwright said.

Norris said he felt it was his right as a citizen and as a mayoral candidate to request a “hand-eye” recount.

“That $200 was an agreement between me and the council, that was my cost,” Norris said. “They made a motion to accept that agreement and they should hold to it. If there is a difference (in cost), they should bear the difference since they agreed to do it for that price.

“It’s only 102 ballots,” he said. “It should only take 30 minutes to count them by hand.

Code stipulates that if the recount of the resulting contest alters the result of the election, the cost of the recount shall be borne by the municipality.

Cartwright said she is unsure as to what the next step in the matter is, but Norris said he plans to show up tonight for the recount.

“They voted to do a recount and I’m going to be there,” he said. “If the council doesn’t stick to their agreement with me, I will be forced to consider a lawsuit against the town of Gantt. If the council has nothing to hide about the election results, I can’t see why I can’t get (a recount).”