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Newton elections board not considering state rep's recount request
0621 CovNews Recount
District 113 State Rep. Pam Dickerson speaks to Newton elections board members Thursday in Covington.

COVINGTON, Ga. — The Newton County Board of Elections on Thursday declined to consider State Rep. Pam Dickerson’s request for a recount of her narrow Democratic primary loss June 9 and referred her to the Secretary of State’s office to begin the process of reviewing the votes. 

Sharon Henderson of Covington defeated Dickerson by 164 votes out of more than 11,000 cast – a margin of 1.5% -- in the two-county House District 113 which includes Newton and Rockdale counties. 

The board voted Thursday to certify Newton County’s June 9 election, including the House District 113 Democratic primary. 

Board Chairman Phil Johnson advised Dickerson to take her case to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office after citing a state election law he said gave the state office jurisdiction over election challenges in multi-county districts.  

“If they direct us and Rockdale County to (recount), we’ll certainly do it,” he said. 

Dickerson, D-Conyers, who was seeking a sixth term, asked the board to consider ordering a recall because of what she said were voting irregularities that needed investigation before the election was certified. 

She said election officials turned away some voters trying to vote in person after already requesting absentee ballots and being told to bring their absentee ballots back to the polling place. 

Dickerson had argued the action was not correct and had filed an open records request to find the number of affidavits that voters had signed that would legally allow them to vote after their absentee ballots had been canceled. 

She also cited the example of a student who was not allowed to vote because he went to school in a different county from where he resided.  

Henderson sat with her husband a few feet from Dickerson during the meeting. 

Afterward, she said Dickerson needed to concede the race. 

“I’m just saying I won and Ms. Dickerson needs to move on,” she said. 

The June 9 election combined voting for political party and nonpartisan candidates with the state’s Presidential Preference Primary – all of which was delayed from earlier this year because of safety fears about the coronavirus. 

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger encouraged voters to request absentee ballots because of coronavirus safety concerns. More than 28,000 cast ballots in Newton County in the election, including more than 13,000 voting absentee by mail – four times the usual amount for a primary election.  

Newton County faced delays in tallying final results June 9 in part because stringent laws governing how absentee ballots must be counted in Georgia forced officials to take the time to deal with irregularities with individual ballots, election officials have said.