Attorneys for Screven Commissioner, County employees say registrar should be sued for contesting elections instead • The Georgia Virtue

Attorneys representing the parties sued over the handling of the Screven County election results have filed their first responses to the lawsuit, filed ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.


Two incumbent county commissioners, a candidate for local office and two residents are suing Screven County Election Officials over confirming the Nov. 8 general election.

Screven County Commissioners Allison Willis and Mike Dixon, District 1 county commissioner nominees Tyler Thompson, Vicki T. Reddick and Michael Lloyd Waters filed the lawsuit Friday afternoon. Reddick is a former District 2 resident who was transferred to District 1 thanks to the February 2022 census-based redistricting. Likewise, Waters was previously in District 6 but moved to District 1 at the same time as Reddick. They are represented by John B. Long of Augusta.

The bone of contention concerns the county’s decision to confirm the election results in Screven County in a county commission race by a margin of just seven votes. In that race, opponents of certification now say voters who switched districts thanks to the reallocation earlier this year weren’t given proper ballots with the correct county commission districts.
In District 1, Democratic incumbent Edwin Lovett defeated Republican Tyler Thompson by seven votes. 715 Screven County voters cast their ballots in that county, with Lovett receiving 361 votes (50.49%) and Thompson receiving 354 (49.51%). More about the original suit.

Answers filed in court
Responses from poll workers

Ben Perkins, best known for his work as Guyton City Attorney, and Oliver Maner’s Wes Rahn in Savannah represent County Election Superintendent Debbie Brown and Elections Supervisor Hannah Derriso.

Brown and Derriso’s response to the lawsuit shifts responsibility largely to the county registrar.

“The respondent indicates that it is the responsibility of the Chief Registrar of Screven County, Georgia to assign individuals upon registration or to reallocate individuals to electoral districts when redistribution occurs. In addition, it is the Chief Registrar’s responsibility to provide updated voter registration and district assignment information to Screven County Electoral Officers and the Secretary of State to ensure ballots are available to voters based on the district in which they reside be asked. All ballots are provided to voters based on information provided by the Chief Registrar; Information relied on by election officials, including the Defendant.”

Additionally, in their filing, poll officials claimed the following:

  1. Petitioners Allison Willis and Mike Dixon are not eligible to contest the election because they do not have voting rights in the contested County Commissioner District 1 election.
  2. Petitioner Michael Lloyd Waters is not currently a District 1 resident and did not become a District 1 resident as a result of the district change.
  3. The petitioner Vikki Reddick is a District 1 resident but Brown and Derriso are not aware of any additional information as this is the responsibility of the registrar.
  4. Nineteen of the named individuals who voted in the November 8, 2022 election reside in District 1 but did not receive ballots that included the District 1 Commission race.
  5. Derriso and Brown admit that they discovered that the Chief Registrar made an error in issuing certain ballots for the District 1 election and admit that Defendant Derriso missed the November 15-16, 2022 election ” as required by OCGA § 21-2” has certified 493(i), which provides: “If an error or fraud is discovered, the superintendent must correctly calculate and confirm the votes, regardless of fraudulent or erroneous feedback presented to him or her and report the matter to the appropriate District Attorney for action.”
    • They claim that the respondents were aware of a mistake, the Georgian law required them to confirm the election results.

Brown and Derriso move that the lawsuit be dismissed because the petitioners “failed to designate an essential party (the Chief Registrar)” because the petitioners “failed to follow written instructions regarding the voting process” and request that all costs incurred to date be paid to the plaintiffs.

They deny that illegal votes were received and deny that legal votes were rejected.

“Respondents deny that there was an error in the counting of votes and admit that the Screven County Chief Registrar did not properly allocate voters to the correct districts/counties, resulting in certain voters listed on the Commissioner District 1 reside, no ballots received for District 1 election,” is the response.

Response from County Commissioner Edwin Lovett

District Attorney George Rountree is representing County Commissioner Edwin Lovett. Rountree was former Screven County attorney Hubert Reeves’ replacement recommendation when he abruptly resigned last summer.

Lovett’s response to the lawsuit also shifts responsibility to the county registrar.

Lovett’s response also states that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the lawsuit did not contain an action eligible for relief. Also among Lovett’s claims:

  1. Petitioners Allison Willis, Mike Dixon and Michael Lloyd Waters are not eligible to contest the election because they were not eligible to vote in the contested County Commissioner District 1 election.
  2. The petitioners failed to name one indispensable party: the Chief Registrar of Screven County, Georgia.
  3. The petitioners failed to follow written instructions regarding the voting procedure.

In addition, Lovett admits that petitioner Vicki T. Reddick, who resides in Screven County and currently resides in District 1, was not provided with a ballot that included the District 1 Commission race. He denies, however, that the Screven County Board of Commissioners’ election of District 1 was improper.

Independent judge appointed

1st Judicial Circuit Administrative Judge Judge Jay Stewart appointed Chief Judge Michael Karpf, formerly of Chatham County, to oversee the proceedings of the matter. No court dates have been set.