A ruling on the contested Liberty County sheriff’s primary election that was expected Friday morning in a hearing, will be rendered later, possibly today through the Liberty County Clerk of Courts office.
Judge Gary C. McCorvey of Tift County said this morning at the at the Liberty County Justice Center he will spend the morning in the law library reviewing the case. Once he has reached a decision he will file the ruling with the clerk, who will release the decision.
McCorvey was appointed to hear Will Bowman’s challenge to the election outcome after Atlantic Circuit judges recused themselves.
A decision is expected Friday on a lawsuit filed by candidate William Bowman challenging May’s Democratic primary results in the Liberty County sheriff’s race.
Judge Gary McCorvey of Tift County is presiding over the hearing, which drew a crowd Thursday to Courtroom D in the Liberty County Justice Center to hear arguments by attorneys representing Bowman, incumbent sheriff Steve Sikes, Elections Supervisor Ella Golden, the Elections Board and its members and the other candidates.
Bowman’s attorney, Samuel Oliver, said his client dropped some of the allegations contained in the lawsuit, which was filed in June, but continued to press forward with allegations that absentee ballots were mishandled, which could cast doubt on approximately 44 votes, and that Sikes intimidated voters and had an altercation with poll worker David Spencer during early voting on May 20.
Sikes’ attorney James Osteen opened by saying that the evidence will show that Sikes beat Bowman by 744 votes. He noted how the prosecutors have already abandoned most of the allegations from their original complaint.
County attorney Kelly Davis, representing the Board of Elections and Elections Supervisor Ella Golden opened by saying that they do not represent or will be arguing on behalf of any candidate.
“The board has no stake in the outcome of this election….The board’s sole interest is ensuring that an honest and proper election was conducted in accordance with Georgia law,” Davis said noting they have worked and cooperated with all the parties involved in reviewing all the record and results.
He added that at the conclusion of the investigation they discovered only one error which was then reported to all the defendants involved in the case.
He noted Bowman’s claim of how the remaining 40-something absentee ballots were handled has no merit.
Testimony was heard throughout the day and closing arguments were done shortly after 3 p.m. McCorvey adjourned the hearing until Friday morning.
The Courier will continue to follow up on the hearing and will have in-depth coverage in Sunday’s Coastal Courier.