Atlantic Beach election commission overturns mayoral and town council election results

Atlantic Beach residents will return to the polls in 180 days.

Town Manager Benny Webb says that decision came after the commission heard nine hours of testimonies from witnesses

(The commission said) in their ruling, evidence heard said there was voting and registration fraud, intimidation, and questionable or phony voting machines," Webb told NewsChannel 15.

For now, the current Mayor and Town Council members will remain. If the commission hadn't overturned their vote, those winning Tuesday's election would have taken their seats January 1, 2012.

Windy Price, Misty Umphries and James Van Fleet, challenged the council vote Saturday. Umphries and Fleet were running for council, Price had run for Mayor.

Saturday's hearing revokes a Municipal Election Commission hearing held Thursday, where Jake Evans was certified as the winner of the mayor's race, with Josephine Isom and Charlene Taylor certified as town council winners.

Council candidates Price and Umphries filed appeals of the election results late Thursday, claiming Evans and his supporters intimidated voters and bought votes, and that numerous other voting violations occurred. The appeal claims the town's election commission failed to consider those violations before certifying the results.

In a separate protest, council candidate James Van Fleet claimed that votes from legal Atlantic Beach residents were illegally rejected by the election commission.

"We look forward to preparing for a free, fair, and open election." Webb told NewsChannel 15 Saturday evening.