By Rebecca Gaunt
Cobb County Elections conducted a recount over the weekend and continuing through Tuesday that confirmed Lynette Burnette won the special election for Kennesaw City Council Post 1.
In the course of the recount, Burnette lost one vote and Madelyn Orochena gained one, narrowing the gap between the two to only 29 votes. Burnette finished with 1,755 votes to Orochena’s 1,726.
Cobb County Communications Director Ross Cavitt told the Courier that the “additional vote total was traced back to a ballot that wasn’t properly scanned due to a jam in [the] scanner.”
The Cobb Board of Elections will hold a public meeting Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. to recertify the results.
Orochena was originally certified as the winner, but requested the recount after it was discovered that an elections employee failed to upload one of two memory cards from the Kennesaw 3A precinct.
When the mistake was discovered and the 789 additional ballots were added, Burnette took the lead.
Candidates have the right to request a recount when the margin is less than 0.5%. The margin between Burnette and Orochena was 0.32%.
The special election was the result of James “Doc” Eaton’s resignation in June. Eaton stepped down in protest of the city issuing a business license to the new owner of Wildman’s Main Street Civil War shop. The store is a source of contention for residents who are angered by its displays of a Klan robe and noose, Confederate flags on the storefront, and sign that says “White History Year.” Other business owners have also claimed it isn’t being held to the same standard as they are when it comes to local ordinances.
Seven candidates qualified for the nonpartisan race in which the winner only needed to receive the most votes.
While Orochena and the five other candidates visibly campaigned and participated in city and candidate events, Burnette has not spoken publicly about her run and only released a statement through a spokesperson calling it an “unconventional election” and that she “looks forward to keeping Kennesaw the best community.”
Rebecca Gaunt earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in education from Oglethorpe University. After teaching elementary school for several years, she returned to writing. She lives in Marietta with her husband, son, two cats, and a dog. In her spare time, she loves to read, binge Netflix and travel.