ATLANTA -- Fulton County’s election director says there will be no runoff in a citywide city council race – even though the top vote getter got fewer than fifty percent of the votes.
That’s because all the write in ballots have been disqualified – putting Michael Julian Bond over the fifty percent threshold.
"We won the election on November 7 and the people of Atlanta have spoken," said Michael Julian Bond, Post 1 city councilman.
Bond declared victory in spite of questions raised about whether he won enough votes to avoid a runoff with his opponent, Courtney English. But Bond and his attorney say it’s a no-brainer.
"Michael won the election," said Robert Highsmith Jr., Bond's attorney.
Yet the race went into a recount, as Bond’s opponent Courtney English challenged the initial count – and raised the specter of a runoff.
"It's important in a democracy that every vote is counted, to make sure every voice is heard," English told 11Alive News Wednesday. English didn't respond to requests for comment Friday.
English and Michael Bond were the only two names on the ballot. Bond and English each got more than 40,000 votes. Bond's margin was less than 400 votes, winning by four one-hundredths of a percentage point. But voters also cast 422 write in votes in that race. If you add in those votes – then Bond’s winning percentage dips below fifty percent – which typically forces a runoff between the two top vote getters.
"If they’re not certified, then it won’t force a runoff," said Rick Barron, Fulton County's election director.
In order for write-in votes to count, Barron says write-in candidates have to fill out paperwork to get certified in advance of election. No candidates got certified in Post 1 before last week's vote. As a result, the write in votes didn't get counted.
Fulton County's election board is expected to certify the vote Saturday.