A judge has ordered Morgan County to scrap results of the Nov. 8 election for two seats on the Morgan School Board and conduct a new election.
Second District Judge Rodney Page informed county commissioners Friday that he will issue directions on how to proceed with a new election in Precincts 1 and 2 where unauthorized voting occurred.Commission Chairman Jeff London said he was pleased with the judge's decision and hopes to hold the election before the end of the year. No date has been set.
"I agree with the judge's decision in the sense that, due to the controversy around the schools up here, this is the reasonable way to go," London said.
Page, who had the election issue under study for the past two weeks, also cited ongoing disputes with the school board in reaching his decision.
The board is under investigation by the sheriff's department for allegedly holding illegal secret meetings, at least one of which was called to discuss how to cope with "radical detractors."
London said county officials were attempting to reach the five candidates involved for the two four-year terms late Friday afternoon to notify them of the decision.
"This is all new ground for us. We've never gone through anything like this before," London said. "There will be a lot of details to work out."
No winners were declared in the two races and the matter was turned over to the court after the problems were detected election night.
In Precinct 1, 57 voters were given the wrong ballots by local voting judges, said County Clerk Janis Widdison. Results showed Kathy Collins with 181 votes, Terry Clawson with 170 and write-in candidate Daniel Polad with 134.
The three were running for an open seat being vacated by board president Earl McCain.
In Precinct 2, only two votes separated the two candidates and three residents were not given school board ballots, Widdison said. Incumbent LaJean Francis received 210 votes and challenger Chet Adams had 208.
Widdison attributed the problems to "honest mistakes" by local voting judges. Only registered voters living in the two precincts will be allowed to vote in the new election.
Candidates for the two school board seats said they expected a new election would be ordered.
"There was no other choice," Polad said.
He said he and Clawson believed they may have canceled each other out in their three-way election, and the two have discussed the prospect of one of them dropping out of the race to better the other's election chances.
Clawson said no decision had been made but the two likely would decide before campaigning gets under way again.
Adams noted that new board members are supposed to take their seats in early January. "We're cutting it awfully close," he said.