Brooks, the incumbent who had represented the area for more than a decade, was disqualified Tuesday.
“We will not throw out the ballots because there were several other candidate races and issues on the ballot,” said Carroll County Elections Supervisor Becky Deese. “Ms. Brooks does have a recourse she can take, but if the decision remains, votes for her will not be counted.”
The two remaining candidates in the District 1 BOE election, Rob Cleveland and Terry Turner, both called the situation “unfortunate.”
“It’s an unfortunate situation, but the bottom line is that the law is the law, and we can’t change it,” Cleveland said. “The decision was in the hands of the Board of Elections, and at the end of the day, that’s it, and there’s not much you can do about it.”
Cleveland said he will be changing some aspects of his campaign with Brooks’ disqualification.
“I am changing the strategy of my campaign a little bit,” he said. “I’m going to focus on different areas of the district now.”
Cleveland said his goal of “serving the children of Carroll County” remains the same, however.
Unlike Cleveland, Turner said he is not planning on refocusing his campaign at all.
“I am going to continue along with the original focus of my campaign,” Turner said. “And that is to look out for the best interests of our kids and our community.”
Turner said that the disqualification of a candidate should not change another candidate’s strategy.
“I’m going to work very hard to gain the support of Bernice’s supporters and do my best to be worthy of their votes,” he said.
Brooks was disqualified by the unanimous vote of the Carroll County Board of Elections in a special hearing Tuesday afternoon after it was discovered her house is in a different district from the one she was running to represent.
While the majority of Brooks’ Villa Rica property can be found in District 1, her home and street address are actually in District 3 because of a technical error.
Instead of printing new ballots for the July 31 election and the early voting that’s going on now, Deese said the polling locations will post signage indicating that Brooks is no longer a candidate and that she is not to be voted for.
As far as those District 1 residents who already voted for Brooks before she was disqualified, Deese said they will not be allowed to come back in and vote for someone else.
“No, that’s it,” she said. “They won’t be allowed to vote again. Their votes will be disregarded.”
Deese said this issue has not happened since she has been with the elections office, but that she is fairly new to the job. Deese was appointed to the position in November 2010, she said at Tuesday’s hearing.
“Redistricting only happens once every 10 years, so this has not happened here before to my knowledge,” she said. “This is a strange, strange set of circumstances.”
Carroll County Schools Superintendent Scott Cowart, who worked with Brooks for two years on the board, called the issue “disturbing.”
“That we have a veteran who may not be able to continue her duties if she had been elected because of a technical error — that’s disturbing,” said Cowart.
Cowart also praised Brooks for the job she did in her 12 years as a board member, and said the situation was frustrating to everyone involved.
“She has done a good job in the community, and she has been an asset to this system,” he said. “It is a frustrating and sad situation. I think everyone in that room [Tuesday] was frustrated with it.”
Carroll County Schools Attorney Cynthia Daley said during the hearing that Brooks could go to Carroll County Superior Court and request a stay on the ruling, which she said is Brooks’ only recourse.
Calls made to Brooks’ legal counsel for the matter, Carrollton attorney Gary Bunch, were not returned.