If you live in Tompkinsville, you're going to have to wait at least two more weeks before you find out who your Mayor is going to be. A lawsuit there could have a lasting impact on how elections are handled across Kentucky.
Former Monroe County Sheriff Bev McClendon won the November election over Jerry Hodges by one vote. Election officials recounted the votes but the outcome of the race didn't change.
That's when Hodges filed a lawsuit in Monroe Circuit Court. The suit claims the number of votes cast in the race for Mayor, was more than the number of registered voters living in Tompkinsville.
Hodges' attorney, David Cross said voters outside the city limits were allowed to vote for the Tompkinsville Mayor. Cross said his client is also concerned about the number of absentee votes cast in the election.
McClendon received more absentee votes than any of the other candidates combined but McClendon's attorney, Daniel Taylor III said the allegations are false.
Hodges lost the Mayor's race in Tompkinsville by one vote. He said he's proven that some voters put false addresses on the absentee ballads to show they lived inside the city limits, when in fact they didn't.
"There's a lot of tainted votes. I got beat from 102 to nine in the walk-in absentee precinct. We focused on this precinct because of the difference in numbers. There's a lot of people who voted inside the city limits that shouldn't have. They voted illegally," Hodges said.
Hodges also claimed in his lawsuit that many of the absentee ballots cast for McClendon are suspicious. Witnesses in this trial have admitted to falsey claiming they were out of town during the election and some voters have said they needed assistance when in fact the didn't.
Judge Johnson agrees that there are irregularities in many of the votes cast but said Hodges and his attorney have yet to prove Mayor McClendon caused those tainted votes.
"Their side has brought witnesses in. There's been witness after witness after witness and none of them has said a thing I've done wrong. When we put our case on, we're going to prove and show that my opponent bought votes and did things that's unethical to the whims of his political bosses," McClendon said.
McClendon also said he had nothing to do with the mistakes people made while voting and he may have only won by one vote but said that doesn't matter, the people of Tompkinsville spoke.
"It's kind of like a ball game, one, you know how that works, I won, really," McClendon said.
Though he would like to be the Mayor of Tompkinsville and thinks he would do a good job, what he really wants is to help the people of Monroe County and make sure this never happens again. He said the best way to correct the system is to file suit.
"There's a lot of things that has to be addressed before anyone good will vote, anyone good will run," Hodges said.
The trial began Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2007, and as of this morning, Jerry Hodges' case has been the only case heard. The court will reconvene on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2007.
Meanwhile, we asked the County Clerk's Office in Monroe County just how many registered voters there are in the city of Tompkinsville. She gave us the total number for the entire county but said there simply is no system in place to know how many voters lived within the city limits.
We've been told this situation is quite common in many of our smaller communities.