A hug and an exchanged congratulations for a good campaign by Ayr Township residents Thurman “Tom” E. Nesbitt III and Russell Harmon Tuesday afternoon marked the end of a heated race for a six-year term as township supervisor.
Joined by their families on November 12, Nesbitt and Harmon appeared before the Fulton County Board of Elections comprised of commissioners Rodney McCray, Craig Cutchall and Irvin Dasher for final resolution on the municipal election race.
At the close of the election last Tuesday evening, unofficial election results showed Harmon (D/R) with 198 votes in comparison to 199 write-in votes cast for Nesbitt, a write-in candidate and incumbent supervisor.
However, as was previously reported in the “News,” those writein votes contained 16 different spellings that could in turn be compiled under Nesbitt’s election campaign. Furthermore, one of those spellings included no first name and only the last name “Nesbitt.”
The “News” further learned this week additional issues also existed.
In a document provided to the candidates, county solicitor Stanley Kerlin states, “There are several issues to be resolved, which include where the ovals are not darkened in for the write-in candidate, cumulation and identity of the candidate for whom those votes were cast and mutilated ballots or ballots with names crossed out.”
Kerlin stated using the Sure Registration System, three individuals are registered to vote in Ayr Township with the last name of Nesbitt. In addition to Thurman E. Nesbitt III, C. William Nesbitt and Arlene Nesbitt are also registered.
“Neither of the latter two has a first name beginning with the letter “T,” Kerlin said in the documents. “Considering all of the above factors and the existing case law, the board will cumulate 197 votes for Thurman E. Nesbitt III.”
Kerlin also addressed the matter of two ballots where the oval was clearly blackened for the writein candidates, but the candidate’s name was stricken. In one case, a voter wrote the name Tom Nesbitt, drew a line through it and in the same voter block printed the name, Thurman Nesbitt. In a second ballot, the name Rodney Shore was written in. It was stricken through, and the name Thurman E. Nesbitt III was printed in the same voter block.
In connection with this issue, Kerlin discussed the topic of “erasure or mutilation” of the vote as well as Webster’s Dictionary definition of mutilation, which is cutting off or destroying a central part. Following Kerlin’s recommendation in the matter, the commissioners as the Board of Elections agreed to award the two votes to the write-in candidate, therefore certifying the final vote as Nesbitt with 199 votes and Harmon with 198.
The Board of Elections’ findings also concur with the decision previously rendered by poll workers from Ayr Township, which also had Nesbitt listed as the front runner with 199 votes.
Harmon stated he did everything he could do in the election, and he was “good to go” and “fine” with the Election Board’s final decision. He indicated he did not wish to seek legal counsel in the matter as the board handled the matter “professionally and legitimately.”
Harmon congratulated Nesbitt for a well-run campaign and urged him to not be “lackadaisical” in the future spring elections.
Nesbitt’s aunt, Arlene, perhaps summed up the situation best Tuesday, stating maybe voters will realize that one vote really does count and make a difference.