Mayors Santini, Billue appear to win re-election bids

Unofficial elections results show big night for incumbents

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While the results of Tuesday night’s local elections won’t be certified until Nov. 15, the unofficial numbers indicates incumbents won big throughout Bartow County. 

“Anything on election night is always unofficial,” Bartow County Elections Supervisor Joseph Kirk said, “but we don’t expect to see those results change much.”

In Cartersville, incumbent Matt Santini won almost 80% of the vote in the city’s mayoral contest, collecting 1,238 votes, with challengers Nicole Butler and Barbara Jackson, respectively, garnering 248 and 57 votes.

Cartersville voters also approved a Sunday “brunch bill” alcohol sales ballot item, 1,095 votes to 447.

In White, incumbent Kim Dupree Billue appears to have beat out challenger David J. King 74 votes to 58. Meanwhile, in a three-candidate race to determine two city council seats, incumbents Charles Buttrum (84 votes) and Ryan Evans (73 votes) made challenger Norman Gary Crisp (66 votes) the odd man out.

Another three-candidate city council race was slated for Emerson. However, with candidate Corey Sanford dropping out of the race shortly before the election, incumbent Vincent Wiley (58 votes) and challenger Charlie Lowry (86 votes) automatically won their bids for the City’s two open council seats.

As did Cartersville's voters, Emerson’s voters likewise approved a Sunday “brunch bill” ballot item 86-31. 

In a three-candidate race for two open council seats in Euharlee, incumbent David Duncan (128) and Tim Abbott (111) appear to have secured enough votes to win the election, with third-place challenger Michael W. Troxell receiving 60 votes.

As for voter turnout in the municipal-level elections, roughly 11.31% of Cartersville’s eligible voters cast ballots, while about 12.69% of eligible voters voted in Emerson’s elections. The City of White had the highest turnout, percentage-wise, with about 30% of the municipality’s eligible voters participating in the electoral process, while Euharlee had the lowest turnout numbers, with just 6.7% of the City’ eligible voters casting ballots in this year’s elections.

Bartow County was one of six counties chosen for a pilot of Georgia’s new Dominion Voting Systems equipment.

Gabriel Sterling, chief operating officer for Georgia’s Secretary of State’s Office, was in Bartow County virtually all day evaluating the test run with the new paper-backed hardware.

“The reason you do pilots like this is to look for problems and things you didn’t think about,” he said, as Georgia prepares for a statewide rollout of the new voting system next year. “They’ve got a great elections team here, you have fantastic poll workers. And the voters so far have all seemed pretty pleased. We’ve heard no real complaints.”

On the local level, Sterling said the equipment functioned as intended, with no major technical issues reported throughout the county.

“It’s a simpler system because before, you had to take a memory card from each one of the individual voting devices,” Sterling said. “Now there’s one memory card you have to take out for each of the scanners — here, you run one tape, keep one memory card and bring it to the central county station, so it should be easier for them.”

Kirk noted that there was a brief delay for voters at one Cartersville polling station.

“The long lines wasn’t the result of a glitch, it was the result of a process we were doing,” he said. “We were testing out a process to check people in on the poll pads without using a voter certificate, and what we learned was that in doing that, we need some more poll pads.”

Sterling said the results of Bartow’s municipal-level elections will be subject to the State’s first pilot audit with the new voting equipment in operation.

“There’s different ways to do different audits, and I know that your team here is very excited to be working with our team,” he said. “We’ve been talking to academics and other outside groups around the country to find the best way to do this, and Bartow County is our partner to exercise some of those tests.”

From there, Sterling said State officials look to analyze and assess what went right — and what could be improved upon — from the trial run in Bartow.

“We’re going to do a debrief not long after all of these things are closed down, from Bartow and the other five counties that had the full system, plus Cobb County that did the hand-marked paper system, just to see if there are things we would’ve learned,” he said.

All in all, Kirk said the local elections — from a technical perspective — went about as smoothly as he could’ve hoped.

“With any system we’re going to see some hiccups, some challenges. Any new piece of equipment is going to have that, especially equipment like this,” he said. “But I’m pleasantly surprised that we didn’t see more than we did.”