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franklin county times

Election lawsuit continued until next week

By Staff
Melissa Cason
Hodges mayoral candidate Nick Howard will have his day in court next week, as Circuit Judge Terry Dempsey will begin hearing testimony Sept. 30.
The case was set to be heard in circuit court Monday but testimony was postponed because Mayor Ed Crouch had not been served as a defendant in the case.
"Mr. Crouch will have five days from today to respond to the suit," Dempsey said during the proceedings. "Everyone who has subpoenaed in the case should return to court Tuesday."
Jeff Bowling, Hodges city attorney, asked for the opportunity to make written motions to the court. Dempsey granted that request, and Bowling agreed to have them to the court by Wednesday, and Steve Graham, Howard's attorney, agreed to have the response to the court by Friday.
Dempsey advised both sides to be ready for testimony Tuesday.
Graham said he has subpoenaed 17 witnesses in the case, and others have come to court on their willing to take the stand.
Howard began contesting the Aug. 26 election, which he lost by one vote, earlier this month.
The reasons for Howard's contesting the election includes the town not publishing the voter's list until the night before the election; two to three people living outside the town were permitted to vote; two people who live inside of town were not allowed to vote even on a provisional ballot; the refusal to give a voter an absentee ballot; and Russellville addresses on returned absentee ballots.
Howard decided not to go through with the recount that was scheduled a few weeks ago because of the cost involved.
"The recount would not have changed anything," Graham said. "It would have given us one more reason to contest the election but it should have no impact on the case in court."
The court took possession of all election documents, including the actual ballots cast on Aug. 26. Dempsey ordered the ballots to remain closed. They may be opened during the legal proceedings, if needed.