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Monday, September 16, 2013 - 12:03pm

Democrats Tussle Over Ballots

Questions continue to swirl around the race for chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia. The party elected DuBose Porter as chair two weeks ago but some Democrats are asking to see the ballots.

Michael Sterling, an advisor to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, wants to review the ballots.

He says he’s not alone, but he says the request has nothing to do with Reed.

Sterling and Reed, however, backed Porter’s opponent, former state Senator Doug Stoner.

When the vote took place, some members protested the rules. The party’s bylaws require a paper ballot and a roll call vote.

In a departure from protocol, the candidates agreed to scrap the roll call if the party agreed to make the votes public. But Sterling says the party hasn’t released the votes yet.

“If you don’t follow the roll call vote as mandated by the bylaws and charter, and you set a different policy in place, it’s important to follow that process,” he said in an interview.

Sterling said he doesn't need to inspect the ballots, and he isn't looking for specific information. He just thinks disclosing the ballots will help the party convey a sense of transparency. And he disavowed the notion that the request has something to do with sour grapes.

Porter confirmed the party has received the request. Both he and Sterling say the election isn’t in dispute.

Porter plays down the disagreement.

“There’s no split in the party,” he said. “We’re together now and we’re going to move forward.”

Political experts, however, say Democrats need to avoid infighting if the party wants to start winning statewide elections again.

Tom Crawford edits the Georgia Report, an online political digest.

“If you’re trying to put on an image of a unified party that’s ready to get out there and seriously compete with the opposition party, you certainly don’t want to have these kinds of disagreements going on,” he said.

Porter is a former state legislator who ran unsuccessfully for Governor in 2010.