(VIDEO) – LaVista Hill Alliance hires attorney, asks for feedback from voters

Posted by Decaturish.com November 7, 2015
Kevin Levitas and Mary Kay Woodworth, president of LaVista Hills Alliance, expressed their concerns regarding the potential voting irregularities being investigated by the Georgia Secretary of State. The group has retained counsel to explore its legal options to challenge the validity of the vote. Photo by David Schick

Kevin Levitas and Mary Kay Woodworth, president of LaVista Hills Alliance, expressed their concerns regarding the potential voting irregularities being investigated by the Georgia Secretary of State. The group has retained counsel to explore its legal options to challenge the validity of the vote. Photo by David Schick

By David Schick, contributor 

The LaVista Hill Alliance announced today that it has retained legal counsel after allegations of voting irregularities in the Nov. 3 election raised doubt about the outcome of the cityhood referendum.

The Georgia Secretary of State and Bureau of Investigation are looking into the matter.

“We are very concerned about these allegations,” said Mary Kay Woodworth, president of the Alliance.

The Alliance has retained attorney Douglas Chalmers Jr., who specializes in political law and litigation.

Woodworth said the Alliance’s attorney would explore any legal option available to citizens to challenge the validity of Tuesday’s vote. She is also asking for any potentially disenfranchised voters to report any incidents or problems to the LaVista Hills Alliance Facebook page, its website, or to call 470-223-2015.

“The gathering of information has just begun,” she said, adding that they are looking for “very specific” information from voters who were directly affected, not third-party tales or “hearsay.”

Kevin Levitas, a supporter of the Alliance, said, “The question is not whether this referendum has passed or not,” adding that it’s about whether or not the voting process was tampered with. “The important point is to get it right.”

He added that the LaVista Hills vote was a “razor-thin majority” and, given the concerns about Tuesday’s outcome, the Alliance wants to know the truth about what happened.

“Everybody says at every election that every single vote counts,” Levitas said. “It truly did in this election.”

The Alliance retained counsel after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation confiscated voting equipment — as part of a state probe into alleged voting irregularities — from DeKalb County.

But DeKalb County election officials said they are confident that the investigation will reveal that the voting process was legitimate — and followed proper procedure.

Here’s the county’s statement released Friday:

“The DeKalb County Board of Registration and Elections’ sole purpose is to ensure the integrity of all elections in accordance with Georgia election code. We recognize the seriousness of the allegations made and are cooperating fully with the Secretary of State’s office as they investigate the claims made. We remain convinced that once the investigation is complete, the veracity of the November 2015 elections will be confirmed. Until the Secretary of State completes his investigation we have no further comment on this issue.”

This early into the investigation process, Levitas said, the county election officials “could not possibly know” the entire body of evidence. He called the comments “inappropriate” since there was so much work to be done to find out what actually happened.

The county certified the election results Friday, which triggered the need for the LaVista Hills Alliance to hire counsel. According to Woodworth and Levitas, they have five days to file a legal challenge following the certification.

However, according to state law, the election results could still be invalidated if the investigation reveals any improprieties in the election process

Thus far, voter complaints over the LaVista Hills vote include:

–  Ballots refused to registered voters.

– Absentee ballots that were either discounted or not sent to military personnel.

– Poll workers making disparaging comments about the incorporation of LaVista Hills in front of voters

– A locked door that kept voters out at one precinct.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that there was allegedly a memory card that wasn’t secured at the Briarlake Elementary precinct.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp ordered the probe of the election results after a senior DeKalb Board of Elections official complained about the integrity of a voting machine in one precinct.

In an email exchange — obtained by Decaturish — Lenoard Piazza, the DeKalb election official, told LaVista Hills political consultant Steve Schultz he was on administrative leave because of the questions he raised about the referendum. His superior, Maxine Daniels, said he was placed on leave because of an unrelated personnel issue.

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  • A Gok

    Where does all this money? I don’t know an experienced lawyer worth his salt who charges less than $300 an hour

    • Staci

      Yes, especially one who has been practicing for 20 years.

    • follow the money

      At $300 a hour (which seems cheap for an experienced attorney) the first 40 hours will cost LVH Alliance/Yes 12k. Where is that money coming from? Did I miss where they have been asking for more donations to cover it? I guess this money will go unexplained like who paid their lobbyist, the non disclosed mailers and 60 k for the two studies. Am I missing anything? 10’s of thousands in spending by these groups (and their related corporate supporters) and not one explanation or disclosure who is paying for it. Hopefully the GBI will look into EVERYTHING about this LVH vote. Not just the vote itself.

      • A Gok

        I agree $300 an hour is cheap. A former Alston and Bird lawyer with the amount of experience he has is likely $400 to $500 an hour.

  • DianneMedlockJoy

    Someone opened the door for me at Sagamore Elementary because Dekalb county schools must keep their doors locked. Elections had set up in a room directly across from the outside door, whereas in the past, it was around the school on the back hall in the library. Sagamore also has two sets of front doors. I am glad the schools were taking access seriously and i am sure, if the supposed locked door was at a school, someone would have been there quickly to open it.

    • notapunk

      Actually, they don’t have to keep them locked. Oak Grove’s doors were not locked on election day. I’ve not encountered a locked door in all the many years I’ve voted there.

  • Donna

    Does that really matter Agok? What really matters is the integrity of our elections (plural, not just this one). I am confident investigators will appropriately determine whether or not there were any improprieties. Meanwhile, it’s time for those who claim their main motive is to “fix DeKalb” should move on to doing just that. The primaries will be upon us before we know it. You won, now fulfill your mission and uphold our faith in you.

    • Ernest

      So on target, Donna. Every single voter in DeKalb should want this sorted out and verified, especially since it was such a tiny margin and could have been easily manipulated, or simple human mistakes made. But the GBI and Secretary of State have LONG needed to look into what was going on in DeKalb’s unverifiable elections. We have the presidential primaries coming up in February, and it is crucial that all DeKalb voters have some assurance that their votes will be honestly and accurately counted. I applaud the LVH leadership that is supporting the State’s efforts to do that for all of us, not just the LVH area.

      You are also right that the 50% who voted “no” (if what we’ve been told was accurate) need to now get busy “fixing DeKalb” as they shouted loud and long for the last several months. The other 50% in LVH tried to take real action, but the vehement DeKalb Wrong people scuttled that. So now it’s time for them to get busy keeping their campaign promises – doing what they said they would if people would vote “no.” How do we hold them accountable for filling their campaign’s promises?

      Setting up a new ethics board that is weaker than the old one won’t get it. That just reshuffled the deck chairs on the Titanic. All the attorneys involved in the “no” campaign need to put their money where the mouth is, get busy doing public service, pro-bono legal prosecution of the county officials who have committed illegal acts against the DeKalb taxpayers.

      • Marjorie Snook

        Lawyers should just start vigilante pro bono prosecutions?

        You don’t really understand how the law works, do you?

        • A Gok

          That is the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. Although “Ernest” is a political consultant, he clearly has no idea about how the government works. Prosecution is a government function. Private attorneys have zero power to conduct “pro bono prosecutions.”

          • Ernest

            They actually can take legal action, if they care enough – see above.

        • Ernest

          See above.

      • Ernest

        If I’m not mistaken, some of the very active members of DS are lawyers and live in DeKalb. That makes them victims of the county’s corruption and illegality, like the rest of DeKalb citizens. That gives them standing under the law. They frame and take charges to the DA and AG for criminal matters, and they can also press civil charges themselves. Unless they are just loath to make their county government cronies mad. There, that’ll be 50 cents please.

        • A Gok

          Ernest, you cannot prosecute crimes on a civil basis. Crimes are prosecuted by the government. Please provide case law or statute citations if you have any legal support for these claims.

  • Graybeard

    It’s gone, let it go, LaVista Hills Alliance. I, for one, can’t think of a worse way to try to get your city formed. Talk about not running in good faith. Say they succeed, then what? This has all the hallmarks of a clusterf*** about to happen. This is how bad blood starts.

  • jo


    Trying to solicit “victims” in hopes of a re-vote is devisive and it’s time to move forward. Avodale Estates and Decatur have trimmed their annexation ambitions and any further annexation by Atlanta is unlikely. The world didnt end.

    GBI will finish it’s investigation into the stolen card by the “whistleblower” and he’ll get indicted.

    From Chamblee City Councilman, Brian Mock:

    “LaVista Hills: I had the pleasure of serving as an observer on Tuesday night at the DeKalb County elections office. It was my first time doing so. I watched Maxine Daniels in action. What I can tell you from my perspective is they ran a class act, they had it together and I left truly impressed. Today, Maxine certified the vote, stating she had counted it three times and ALL votes from ALL polls were accounted for. That’s good enough for me. In all my years, I don’t recall an election ever occurring where someone didn’t say they felt something was irregular, it’s a standard statement. I spend half my life in Northlake and my place of business would have been in LaVista Hills had it passed. The anger and hatred from some on both sides has been insane. For over a year I’ve watched as neighbors turned on each other, people who were once good friends no longer speaking. It is now time to start the healing process. According to our Elections Director, a competent individual whom I witnessed in action, LaVista Hills failed. Be it a slim margin, the people have spoken. Let the GBI investigate, nothing wrong with having a second set of eyes on things. In the meantime it doesn’t change the fact that the election has been certified, respect the outcome, respect your neighbors, let the hatred stop at this point.”

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