For the second time this year, incumbent Rep. Dan Gasaway didn’t win the Georgia House District 28 seat for the upcoming term, and now for the second time he has filed a lawsuit related to that loss.
Senior Superior Court Judge David Sweat, who presided over the first case, agreed with Gasaway that improperly assigned voters cast the results of the first election into doubt, thereby throwing out that election and calling for a new one on Dec. 4.
After provisional ballots in Banks, Habersham and Stephens counties were counted from the Dec. 4 election, challenger Chris Erwin again defeated Gasaway, this time by two votes. A recount requested by Gasaway and conducted Tuesday did not change that outcome.
But Gasaway argues a third election must be held to ensure that a “materially erroneous election” is not allowed to stand.
In his lawsuit, filed electronically in Banks County at 5:35 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 19, Gasaway contests the results of the Dec. 4 Special Republican General Primary for House District 28.
The lawsuit is filed against the Habersham County Board of Elections and Registration, Banks County Board of Elections and Registration, Stephens County Board of Elections and Registration, and Chris Erwin, Republican candidate for Georgia House District 28.
“The issues at play in this petition are bigger than Rep. Gasaway,” the suit states. “They are bigger than Chris Erwin. And they are bigger than Georgia House District 28. This petition is about ensuring that elections are fairly and properly administered and, if they are not, remedying this failure. Now, the 2018 Georgia HD 28 Republican Primary Election has been wrongly administered not once, but twice. To maintain public confidence in the electoral system and to uphold the integrity of the electoral process, the election should be declared invalid, and a new election should be held with certain protocols implemented to ensure the new election’s accuracy. Any result otherwise allows for a materially erroneous election to stand. This cannot be.”
But the lawsuit doesn’t stop there. Instead, Gasaway in it challenges the residency of Banks County Sheriff Carlton Speed and his family. The suit claims seven people allowed to vote in the House District 28 race don’t live there – including Speed, his wife and son.
But Speed issued an official statement after the lawsuit became public Thursday.
“Yesterday, Mr. Dan Gasaway filed a frivolous lawsuit stating that my family and I live in another county and voted illegally in Banks County,” Speed’s statement reads. “The land and house that we reside in and own is located solely in Banks County. I have held the office of sheriff for almost two terms and have all intentions to seek a third term to serve the people of Banks County.”
Further, Speed identifies authorities that establish his residency, and a possible source of the confusion.
“My residential status is supported by official tax documents, Banks County GIS mapping department records, and all business conducted through my personal accounts,” Speed’s statement reads. “Unfortunately, Google Maps doesn’t put my residence in Banks County. Google Maps will be the first to state that it is an unofficial source of information. As most of us know, we don’t believe everything that we read on the Internet.”
While frustrated, Speed says he’s not getting in the middle of the political fracas.
“While I spoke of Mr. Gasaway’s soured grapes of losing his election during an interview with FOX 5, I will not be brought into his feud with the voters of Banks County,” Speed’s statement reads.
“Speaking on behalf of my wife and children, we find it insulting and humiliating that Mr. Gasaway would attack our family and seek my job at the holidays for a political position,” Speed’s statement reads. “I look forward to continuing as your sheriff and appreciate all of the community support through this accusation.”