City requests dismissal of Anniston election contest
by .Laura Camper
lcamper@annistonstar.com
Sep 25, 2012 | 4582 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Anniston city officials on Monday afternoon filed their answer to outgoing Ward 3 City Councilman Ben Little’s election contest -- a request that the court dismiss the case.

The city’s request states Little didn’t pay the security required by state law to move the election contest forward, and didn’t name the proper defendant.

“These deficiencies cannot now be remedied by amendment or otherwise,” the request states.

Little lost his council seat to challenger Seyram Selase in the Aug. 28 municipal election, according to vote totals that were certified by the city council earlier this month.

Little filed a contest of the election Sept. 10, within the required five days after certification of the election results, without naming a defendant in the case. Little’s contest filing alleges that city workers were seen working inside polling places, ballots were mishandled by poll workers and voters were seen voting more than once. At the time of the filing, Little said he had not yet hired an attorney, and said the contest might be amended later.

Circuit Clerk Ted Hooks, who by state law sets the bond for the contest, had set the security at $5,000 for the case.

On Monday afternoon, Little declined to say whether he had yet paid the bond. The Circuit Clerk’s office had not received a payment as of 4:15 p.m. Monday, according to Kim McCarson, who works at the office.

The lack of a defendant named in the election contest is grounds to dismiss the case, the city’s request states.

“Because none of the parties who prevailed in the municipal elections Plaintiff seeks to challenge have been made parties to the election contest, this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction,” the request states.

It quotes part of the state law, “the clerk must issue a summons, accompanied by a copy of the statement directed to the party whose election is contested, requiring the party, within five days after the service of the summons to appear and make answer to the statement.”

Seyram Selase won the election on Aug. 28 by a vote of 517 to 308 according to the City Council certified results.

Selase said he has not been contacted by Little or his attorney about the case and unless it was sent by mail, hasn’t received a summons in the case.

“I’m just expecting to take office on Nov. 5,” Selase said.

In addition, the city’s filing states that Little filed the contest but “neither gave good and sufficient security costs of the contest as required by Ala. Code 17-16-56 nor did the Plaintiff give good and sufficient security costs ‘in form at least’ as permitted by law.”

Little did pay $301 in filing fees for the contest. But the city’s request to dismiss argues that isn’t good enough.

State law, the request states, requires the party contesting must file the paperwork and pay the security within five days of the certification of the election results.

“The time constraints imposed for filing of an election contest also apply to the requirement that good and sufficient security costs be given,” the request states.

Judge John Thomason, who has been assigned the case, has not scheduled a hearing and could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

Little declined to answer any questions about the contest on Monday, saying only that “Everything is moving forward.”
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