A senior judge who recently ruled that a new election for Georgia House District 28 is warranted has provided details of the next steps.
Senior Judge David Sweat was appointed to hear the case of Dan Gasaway v. 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 – Dec. 4, 2018, Respondents, and Billy C. (Carlton) Speed, Respondent-Intervenor.
Arguments in that case were heard the week of Jan. 28 in Banks County Superior Court, with Sweat issuing a verbal decision from the bench and following up with a written order Feb. 8.
“The Special Election in which Respondent Chris Erwin was certified the winner is hereby declared invalid; having been sworn into office as Representative of Georgia House District 28 … Mr. Erwin hereby ceases to hold this office and ceases to exercise the powers, duties, and privileges of the office immediately,” Sweat’s ruling states.
The ruling also sets out when the new election, the third for the seat that has carried into a second year, will be conducted and how.
“The third 2018 Georgia House District 28 Republican General Primary Election shall take place on April 9, 2019, with all absentee ballots, early voting ballots, and other ballots to be administered in accordance with Georgia’s Election Code,” Sweat’s order states.
Provisions of the order include:
- The winner of the third Republican General Primary Election held April 9 will be declared the winner of the 2018 Georgia House District 28 General Election and will take office upon certification of the April 9, 2019 election results and corresponding specially-scheduled swearing-in; and
- Individuals eligible to vote in the third 2018 House District 28 General Republican Primary Election shall be voters identified on the Approved Eligible Electors List.
Sweat’s order lays out exactly how that Electors List will be created, including all voters who were or should have been eligible to vote in the May 22, 2018 House District General Primary that did not request a Democratic ballot in the May 22, 2018 General Primary Election and did not become ineligible to vote in House District 28 in the Nov. 6, 2018 General Election.
“The Boards of Election and Registration for Banks, Habersham and Stephens counties shall create a proposed Electors List and submit to Candidates Erwin and [Dan] Gasaway no later than 5 p.m. on March 1, 2019,” Sweat’s order states. “The candidates shall have until 5 p.m. on March 6, 2019 to file any and all objections to the proposed Electors List. Each Board of Elections and Registration shall meet, consider and decide on each objection on or before March 11, 2019. The resulting list of voters shall be the Approved Eligible Electors List. Any voter for whom an objection that is raised that is included in the Approved Eligible Electors List shall be permitted to submit a provisional ballot and their eligibility shall be examined in accordance with the Georgia Election Code.”
After receiving the written ruling, Erwin posted the following statement on his Facebook page:
“Leaving the constituents of the 28th District unrepresented during this crucial period is truly a travesty. Our community to have no voice or vote on important legislation to fund government operations, fix rural hospitals, improve education and protect our constitutional rights. But also, our veterans, law enforcement professionals, small business owners and taxpayers will be without an advocate responsible for helping constituents navigate their government and finding solutions for taxpayers of the 28th District. Dan Gasaway has put his political career ambitions over what’s best for our community and the State of Georgia.
“We are currently evaluating our options moving forward, in order to determine what is best for the taxpayers of the 28th District,” Erwin’s post concludes.