Kenneth Whalum, Jr. wins lawsuit seeking new school board district 4 election

Published: Aug. 19, 2013 at 1:49 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 19, 2013 at 8:29 PM CDT
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(WMC-TV) - Shelby County Schools Board Commissioner Kenneth Whalum, Jr. may get a second chance at a seat on next year's board, after a judge called for a new election.

Whalum's attorney, Robert Spence, says his client lost the August 2012 election to Kevin Woods by about 106 votes because people were voting in the wrong district.

"The chancellor did not find that it was intentional, but it was bungled," said Spence.

After looking into its records, the Election Commission determined that 556 people who voted in the District 4 race were ineligible. From those 556 voters, the commission was able to see how 370 of those people voted. Of the 370, 93 of them voted for Woods and 277 voted for Whalum. The commission was unable to determine how the remaining 186 ineligible voters voted.

Also according to the lawsuit, no proof was presented to show how the 281 District 4 voters who were assigned ballots to other districts would have voted.

Whalum says that the remainder of votes that were unable to be verified could have made the difference in the tight race and that "the election for the District 4 school board seat should be set aside due to the mistakes made by the Election Commission".

According to attorney Robert Spence, Whalum won his lawsuit and a new election for District 4 will be held.

"This is the first time in the history of Memphis a candidate took advantage of legal recourse and got a favorable ruling," said Whalum, Jr. "The errors were massive and shocking."

Commissioner Kevin Woods' attorney said they have not yet decided whether to appeal the ruling.

"I'm letting my attorneys handle this legal issue," said Woods.

Woods repeatedly referred to the upcoming election as "unlikely" and said the looming lawsuit was never a distraction.

"We knew there was a lawsuit and what I've promised constituents of District 4 is that I'll continue to focus on the work," added Woods.

The Election Commission is now tasked with picking a special election date. Whalum said he is concerned about the potential for future errors by the commission.

"I'm not confident at all. That's why I'm going to be running like a Kenyan in a marathon," said Whalum.

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