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Provisional ballots in Forsyth unlikely to give Gilligan outright win
County prepping for July 14 runoff to decide District 24 state House contest

FORSYTH COUNTY — The four ballots that have not yet been counted from the special election Tuesday are not expected to alter the outcome of the District 24 state House of Representatives’ race and avoid a runoff election.

The results will not be officially called until Friday afternoon, when the Forsyth County Board of Elections meets to approve or deny three provisional ballots.

On Tuesday night, Sheri Gilligan secured about 49.9 percent of the votes in the district, which spans Cumming and parts of north and west Forsyth. She needed 50 percent plus one vote to win the four-candidate contest outright, falling just two votes shy of that threshold.

David Van Sant received the second-most votes in the all-Republican field, securing 877, or 24.5 percent, which would put him in the runoff.

According to Barbara Luth, supervisor of voter registrations and elections in Forsyth, ballots can be marked as provisional if further research is needed to determine whether the voters that cast them are valid.

Each of the three — the fourth is an unreturned absentee ballot — arose over difference circumstances, Luth said.

“One gentleman believed he was in the district but is indeed out of it.,” she said. “The line goes down the middle of the street. And when [the elections board] looks at a map, they’ll see that he is on the other side.”

Another ballot was held because a resident voted at the wrong precinct. “That would count because she didn’t have time to get to hers,” Luth said.

A third resident claimed she had filed a change of address, for which the new one would make her eligible. However, Luth said, there is no record of that change.

Research on an old recording system was needed to make sure the change was real.

Provisional ballots are not opened before decided upon. Ineligible residents’ votes are thrown away unopened, and valid votes are opened after a decision is made.

Even with these provisional ballots, Luth said, two votes "may not make a difference” because the proportions of the overall vote distribution also will change.

The board met Wednesday afternoon to discuss details of the potential July 14 runoff between Gilligan and Van Sant.

The fact that Gilligan’s votes were so close to an outright win is not cause for a recount, Luth said.

“If the second-place person is within 1 percent of the first-place person, they can request a recount,” she said.

The same goes for the second- and third-place winners to determine who makes the runoff.

However, there was more than a 3 percent different between Van Sant and the third-place candidate, Ethan Underwood, who garnered 739 notes, or about 21 percent.

A total of 3,572 ballots were cast for the race, including Will Kremer’s 171 votes, or 4.8 percent.

The likely runoff next month is expected to cost the county less than Tuesday’s election, Luth said, though she did not have an exact amount.

“Costs vary as to how many places are open [to vote], but because of the city council election we made [Cumming] City Hall and the county administration building open the whole time for early voting,” she said.

Though exact times, locations and dates for early voting were discussed Wednesday, Luth said only the Elections office — and eventually the Midway Park Community Building — likely will be used for early voting.