Numbers game
Tally the same after election recount

LAWRENCEVILLE - After two hours of crunching the numbers Tuesday morning, officials certified the same vote-spread of last week's GOP primary for District 1 commissioner.

But third-place candidate Carol Hassell, who remained 19 votes shy of a place on the Aug. 5 runoff ballot, did not concede the election.

"It is what it is," she said of the numbers. "I didn't get into this to have this outcome. I haven't made any decisions yet. ... I'm not going to jump to any conclusion at this stage."

With the results, though, the runoff is slated to be between former Duluth Mayor Shirley Lasseter and Bruce LeVell, a Duluth businessman who serves on the MARTA and Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District boards.

Hassell and her attorney Gregory Jay watched elections officials rescan absentee ballots and load cards from both early voting machines and electronic voting machines from the Norcross, Duluth and Suwanee precincts of the district.

As the count neared completion, Hassell had one less vote than the earlier total, but officials were able to determine that one card had not been scanned. Staffers isolated the precinct and were able to simply re-tally the cards from that precinct.

"You never know with machinery. It's either your best friend or your worst enemy," Elections Superintendent Lynn Ledford said to Hassell and representatives for Lasseter and LeVell during the recount.

Election board members said they did not mind the recount, which can be sought for any race with less than a percent difference in the vote totals.

"It's only fair when they ask for it, when it is that close," Beauty Baldwin said.

But they said they expected the runoff to remain as a choice between Lasseter and LeVell. "We have a lot more checks and balances than we used to," board member Joey Chapman said.

The count, certified by the board at about 11:23 a.m. Tuesday, was once again 2,714 for Lasseter, 1,888 for LeVell and 1,869 for Hassell.

"I'm happy," LeVell said later Tuesday. "I think there are critical issues with the state of public safety and our economy right now. I'm committed all the way to Aug. 5.

LeVell said he was impressed with Hassell's desire to tackle public transit and revitalization issues, some of his top concerns.

Lasseter congratulated both candidates on their campaigns and said she was ready to turn toward the runoff in two weeks.

"I really had no doubt in my mind. I've got a tremendous amount of faith in Lynn Ledford and the elections system," Lasseter said of the recount. "I'm just continuing (with the campaign). I don't know if I ever stopped."