Carolyn Cosby, 63, of Ball Ground, went to the Elections Office on Tuesday at 5 p.m. to demand her petition to get on the Nov. 4 ballot be verified immediately, despite interim Elections Supervisor Kim Stancil setting a date of Aug. 1 for completion.
“We have not completed it. There are a lot of steps that have to be done,” Stancil told Cosby, who was accompanied by Canton T.E.A. Party leader John Hiland, her husband and two other colleagues.
Cosby submitted a petition July 8 to try and get her name on the November ballot as an independent, to challenge County Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens, who beat Republican challenger Jackie Archer in the May primary election.
Cosby said “the law makes it very clear” that if Stancil did not verify the signatures on her petition by July 22, “refusal to respond is to tell me that I have been accepted.”
“If you cannot tell me that I have not qualified, then I have qualified, and I am on the ballot,” Cosby said. “So I am now on the ballot, and I accept that.”
When asked what law she was referring to, Cosby said she would have to talk with her attorney.
Cosby said she will “probably pursue” legal actions, after saying she was treated unfairly.
“I am prepared to exercise my legal right under the Constitution,” Cosby said in an email to Stancil earlier Tuesday.
Stancil said she is unaware of what law Cosby was referring to, adding she didn’t know of “any such law.”
The acting elections supervisor said there is only one mention in Georgia Code of a timeframe for the petition completion, and quoted the law, which states, “Upon the filing of a nomination petition, the officer with whom it is filed shall begin expeditiously to examine the petition to determine if it complies with the law.”
Stancil set a date of Aug. 1 for completing the verification process, which calls for
Elections Office staff to decipher, verify and count 7,750 signatures on Cosby’s petition.
“If we have to come up here and work day and night, we’ll have it done by Aug. 1,” Stancil said.
Stancil said the final cutoff for completing the verification process is actually Aug. 15, but said she set an earlier deadline for Elections Office staff of Aug. 1 for finishing the process.
“We could possibly have them done before then,” Stancil told Cosby on Tuesday. “If we do, we will certainly let you know, but they are not ready today.”
Cosby said she was treated unfairly by having to wait until Aug. 1 to know if her signatures were verified or not, saying “that is unacceptable.”
Cosby also told Stancil the Aug. 1 date would not allow for her to appeal the Elections Office staff’s decision.
“It looks very much like you are in collusion with county officials who have been working … to keep me off the ballot,” Cosby said. “We expect fairness across the board, Lady Justice has a blind eye.”
Stancil said the Elections Office staff does “not play games.”
“I have not spoken with any county officials about your petition. This has nothing to do with anybody in office in this county,” Stancil said. “We do our job here.”
Cosby said her petition should have been verified Tuesday.
Libertarian Jeff Amason submitted a petition to get his name on the ballot to run against Rep. Scot Turner (R-Holly Springs) for the House District 21 seat.
The Secretary of State’s office set a two-week deadline for the Cherokee Elections Office to verify signatures on Amason’s petition, and Cosby said it’s unfair her petition isn’t finished yet.
“This is not equal treatment,” Cosby said. “Mine should have been verified at the same time.”
Stancil explained that the Secretary of State set the July 22 date for completion of Amason’s petition, but said the Elections Office “was under no obligation to set any date” for Cosby’s petition.
With more than double the number of pages in Cosby’s petition, compared to Amason’s, as well as an additional 5,000 signatures to be verified, Stancil said the Elections Office is doing the best it can to get the job done.
For comparison, Stancil showed two stacks of paper — one was Cosby’s petition and the other stack was Amason’s petition.
Stancil said there was “quite a bit of difference in the number of pages.”
Cosby’s petition consisted of 545 pages, with 7,750 signatures, while Amason’s petition had 228 pages and about 2,700 signatures.
Stancil explained the many steps for verifying a single signature, which included: deciphering the printed name and checking for a signature; checking the system to see if the person is a registered voter; looking up the signer’s voter identification card to verify the signatures match; entering the name into a spreadsheet to keep track of the names and verify there are no duplicates; and checking the voter’s registration date, which includes checking both electronic databases and handwritten registration cards.
“We have to do all of that for each one,” Stancil said.