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Court rules that Woods’ victory in 2012 election was legitimate despite errors

Tennessee’s Court of Appeals this week ruled that Shelby County Schools board member Kevin Woods’ victory over former Memphis City Schools board member Kenneth Whalum in a 2012 election was definitive and valid, the Commercial Appeal reports.

Election Day irregularities in 2012 meant that hundreds of people were allowed to vote in the District 4 race who did not live in the district. When Woods won by 106 votes, Whalum contested the victory. A local court ruled in 2013 that the election results were unclear because of the voting errors, and called for a special election.

Woods appealed that ruling, however, and the state court of appeals found that in fact, most of the voters who were out-of-district voted for Whalum, not Woods.

From the Commercial Appeal:

The Shelby County Election Commission determined that 93 of the votes were for Woods and 277 were for Whalum. It could not sort out the remaining 186 ballots.

“The result of the District 4 school board election was neither affected nor rendered incurably uncertain as a result of the 186 allegedly illegal votes,” according to an appellate opinion signed by J. Steven Stafford. The court issued its ruling late Tuesday.

“Even taking into account these allegedly illegal votes, Mr. Woods remains the clear victor.”

Woods, who was school board chair until this week, will hold his seat until Sept. 1, 2016. He told the Commercial Appeal that he was pleased that “a cloud is now lifted over our election results.”

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