State Board of Elections refers 2015 vote-buying case to Attorney General’s office

The Georgia State Election Board last week voted unanimously to bind the 2015 City of Hazlehurst vote-buying case to the Georgia Attorney General’s office for investigation.
In a meeting held Wednesday at the State Capitol Building in Atlanta, SEB Case No. 2015-094 City of Hazlehurst (Jeff Davis County) 21-5-570 was one of 24 cases addressed by the Election Board.
The case involves the November, 2015, Hazlehurst mayoral contest between incumbent Mayor Jack Cole and former Mayor Bayne Stone. Stone won the vote 235-233.
But during the election, a voter told a poll worker that Stone’s son, Dan Stone, had paid him to go to the polls. The poll worker forwarded that information to her superiors and an investigation ensued.
Cole contested the election and a hearing was held in late November at the Jeff Davis Courthouse before Judge Gary C. McCorvey, Senior Judge of the Superior Courts of the State of Georgia.
Judge McCorvey found that the preponderance of the evidence showed that the two-vote margin of victory for Stone was obtained by bribery and fraud. Sworn testimony at the trial uncovered that George McRae was paid $10 and Kenneth Woods was paid $7. Both McRae and Woods testified that they were paid by Dan Stone to vote. Dan Stone took the stand and denied paying them anything.
Judge McCorvey also ruled that three applications for absentee ballots were disqualified because the voters failed to sign the Oath of Elector as required by law. Ironically, one of those three applications was Bayne Stone’s. The judge said allowing those three votes cast doubt on the validity of the election.
A new mayoral election was ordered and was held March 1, 2016, with Bayne Stone defeating Cole 450-404.

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