Upset in DeKalb: Write-in candidate wins special election in constable race
November 13, 2015 Share

Upset in DeKalb: Write-in candidate wins special election in constable race

By Joseph M. Morgan

joseph@southerntorch.com

DEKALB COUNTY, Ala. — What began as a very low-key DeKalb County Special Election Tuesday ended up being one of the most exciting and unusual election finishes in recent memory in DeKalb County. Tuesday’s election was held to fill two open constable seats in DeKalb Constable District 1 and DeKalb Constable District 4.

In District 1, Republican Kyle Pike faced Democrat George Roberts. Pike won 67 percent of the vote to defeat Roberts. The race for District 4 is where things got interesting. DeKalb County Constable District 4 Candidate Billy Whitt ran unopposed on Tuesday’s ballot, all but assuring victory and that the constable seat was his. Combined, the two constable seats represent 24 of DeKalb County’s 45 voting precincts and 19,832 registered voters.

Only 326 of the registered 19,832 voters showed up Tuesday to vote —a 1.6% turnout. In the District 1 race between Pike and Roberts 224 votes were cast—151 votes (67%) for Pike, 65 votes (29%) for Roberts and 8 write-in votes. Of the 326 votes, only 102 were cast in the District 4 race. The shocker of the day was the coordination of a write-in campaign mounted to elect DeKalb County resident Wendy Bobbitt to the District 4 Constable position for which Whitt was running unopposed.

Polls closed at 7 p.m. and each precinct tallied votes and reported them to the DeKalb Probate office. At about 8:45 p.m., the Probate Office reported to Southern Torch that unofficial numbers were in. We were told that write-in candidate Wendy Bobbitt had defeated Billy Whitt 50-49. Less than five minutes later, much to our gratitude, the Probate Office called back to tell us those numbers were not final and there would need to be a hand count of write-in votes from three remaining boxes to determine the final outcome. This would require quite a production.

Upon arrival at the courthouse, Southern Torch learned that the official vote count was 49 votes for Billy Whitt and 48 write-in votes for Wendy Bobbitt. To have the sealed boxes transported to the DeKalb County Courthouse, Alabama Election Law requires the transport or escort of boxes to or from polling places to be performed by DeKalb County Sheriff Deputies. A judge would then be required to sign a court order to open the sealed boxes. Election officials called in Circuit Judge Jeremy Taylor to sign the order.

Although election officials knew that the three remaining boxes contained five write-in votes, no one was sure of the outcome. Around 10:30 p.m. two of the three boxes arrived and contained two write-in votes. Remarkably, neither were for Wendy Bobbitt, keeping the score at 49 votes for Billy Whitt and 48 votes for Wendy Bobbitt. Whitt wouldn’t be so fortunate when the final box came in around 11:30 a.m. All three write-in votes were for Wendy Bobbitt, bringing the final vote total to 51 write-in votes for Wendy Bobbitt, 49 votes for Billy Whitt and 2 write-in votes for other candidates. Bobbitt’s victory, while small, is quite a remarkable feat. There was obviously a well-orchestrated plan to take the election and her write-in victory is the most significant DeKalb County has seen since 1983.

Ironically, Wendy Bobbitt did not qualify for the upcoming DeKalb County Constable District 4 race that will be held during the 2016 General Election in November. Whitt, however, did qualify for 2016. It is highly unlikely that Bobbitt would be able to mount a write-in campaign again during a general election in a presidential year with high voter turnout. So at the end of the day? Wendy Bobbitt will serve as District 4 Constable for one year, and unless Whitt changes his mind and chooses not to run he will be the likely favorite in 2016.

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