ATLANTA – The Georgia Supreme Court (search) on Monday canceled Tuesday's scheduled runoff election for a seat on the state Court of Appeals, acting in a lawsuit filed by a losing candidate whose first name was wrong on some ballots.
The state's highest court issued a stay in the case of Howard Mead (search), who challenged the results of the July 20 nonpartisan general election. He finished just 382 votes behind second-place finisher Michael Sheffield (search). Sheffield and the leading vote-getter, Debra Bernes (search), had advanced to the runoff.
Mead contended in his lawsuit that he was incorrectly listed as Thomas Mead on 481 absentee bale top two finishers in the election -- Bernes and Sheffield -- had been set to face each other in Tuesday's runoff since no candidate had exceeded the state required 45 percent of the vote to win the seat.
Attorneys for Mead argued that because there were more flawed ballots than the number by which he trailed Sheffield, the election should be declared invalid.
But lawyers for Bernes and Sheffield noted that of the 481 flawed ballots that were cast, only 314 of them included votes in the Court of Appeals race -- less than the margin between Sheffield and Mead.
Monday's stay prevents an election from being conducted until Mead can argue his appeal before the court.
"We're pleased with the court's decision and we look forward to presenting our case at the appropriate time," he said shortly after the stay was announced.
The Court of Appeals is the state's second-highest appeals court, ranking just under the Supreme Court.
Other runoff elections will still be held Tuesday in Georgia, including ones to decide the Democratic candidate for the seat of retiring Sen. Zell Miller (search) and the GOP candidate to replace retiring Rep. Mac Collins in the 8th Congressional District.