ELMORE COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - A former Wetumpka city council member has been declared the winner of a 2016 municipal election after votes for his opponent were found to be illegally cast.
Former Wetumpka City Councilor Lewis Washington, Sr. filed a lawsuit in Elmore County Circuit Court against Percy Gill, elected in the Aug. 23, 2016 municipal election. Washington claimed some people were allowed to vote who were not on the roll and "a sufficient number of legal votes" for him were illegally rejected in the election.
After examining the evidence, the court ordered Wednesday that eight absentee votes for Gill were illegally cast. According to Alabama Code, the application for the absentee ballot must be signed by the voter and the affidavit of the absentee voter must be signed by the voter in the presence of two witnesses or a notary public. The court found that the votes were cast illegally due to signatures on the absentee application not matching those of the voters or witnesses not physically being present at the signing of the absentee affidavit.
In one case, court documents indicate a vote wasn't cast by the voter whose name appeared on it.
With the eight votes taken away, the court ordered Washington be declared the winner of the Wetumpka Municipal Election for the District 2 City Councilor seat. The final vote was 165-160.
Washington's attorney, Al Agricola, spoke about the court's order.
"We are very pleased that the court agreed that we satisfied our burden of proof that illegal absentee ballots were counted for Mr. Gill that should not have been," said Agricola.
Agricola says he expects Washington will be sworn in in due time.
Gill's attorney, Martin Weinberg, also spoke about the order.
"We're disappointed with the results and respect that, but Mr. Gill has enjoyed and cherished representing the citizens of District 2 in the city of Wetumpka and at this time we are still weighing our options in terms of an appeal," said Weinberg.