A Republican primary election for a seat in Georgia’s House of Representatives has been voided for the second time because of illegal voting, an attorney who contested the race on behalf of one candidate said Friday.
After a four-day trial that ended late Friday, Superior Court Senior Judge David Sweat threw out the Dec. 4 election results in a race between state Rep. Dan Gasaway, R-Homer, and his Republican opponent Chris Erwin, said Gasaway counsel Jake Evans. Gasaway lost the Dec. 4 election by two votes.
It was the second time Gasaway contested the election results over voting improprieties and the second time the challenge went to trial in front of Superior Court Senior Judge David Sweat.
Last spring, after Gasaway lost the Republican primary to Erwin, he sued to void that election, which he lost by 67 votes. No Democrat ran for the seat, which includes parts of Habersham, Banks and Stephens counties in northeast Georgia.
Last September, Sweat ordered a new election after finding Gasaway had presented sufficient evidence to change or place in doubt the May primary results.
When Gasaway lost, Evans contested the election a second time after scouring voter certificates and comparing them to property deeds. Evans joined Holland & Knight in Atlanta as a senior litigation associate last October. The judge determined that four illegal votes had been cast, Evans said.
On Friday, Evans said the trial “was a contentious legal action that lasted for four days. This was a very big legal win.”
Erwin has already taken his seat at the state House, where the General Assembly is currently in session. Evans said Erwin will have to immediately vacate the seat until a new election can be held. Erwin was represented by Bryan Tyson of Atlanta’s Strickland Brockington Lewis.
Evans said the judge overturned the Dec. 4 election after four voters testified that they had voted in the district even though they no longer lived there.
“Getting a new election once is virtually unheard of,” Evans said. “Getting a new election twice may never have been done. I am really proud of the result and excited that Mr. Gasaway is getting a fair shake.”
Tyson said Friday that he and Erwin are exploring their options, including a possible emergency appeal or asking the judge to stay his ruling until after the 2019 legislative session ends. “Our concern is the timing of getting a new election will leave the district without a representative for the session if there is not a stay,” he said.