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Georgia county officials mistakenly declared winner of council race before all votes counted

Uncounted votes on a memory card has changed an election in Cobb County, Georgia, officials say.

Madelyn Orochena announced her win on social media for the Kennesaw City Council Special Post 1 seat after she said the results were in. 

“Feeling excited and so grateful! It’s a win! See you Monday,” Orochena wrote in the social media post.

However, Orochena’s victory was short-lived, after a memory card was discovered Wednesday. The results changed with the projected winner to be Lynette Burnette.

“Unfortunately, once found we did upload it, and it changed the outcome of the Kennesaw City Council race,” Cobb County Elections Director Janine Eveler said.

The memory card contained 789 uncounted ballots from the county. Burnette defeated Orochena by just 31 votes.

Following the announcement, Orochena released a statement on social media sharing her disappointment and frustration.  

“This is shameful. … And our faith in our governing bodies continues to fail.” Orochena wrote.

Cobb Election officials said the memory card was found in the Kennesaw area while election workers were preparing for a risk-limiting audit. The results attributed to the card have since been sent to Georgia’s Secretary of State’s office, election leaders said. 

Cobb County election officials said the results listed on the Secretary of State’s election page now reflect the accurate results.

Orochena said in a social media post that she would be filing a complaint with the Secretary of State’s Office.

“Just trying to gain more information, what is within my rights, so we can be confident whoever wins, wins fairly,” Orochena said.

The election results will be re-certified in a special meeting called meeting Friday.

“We immensely regret this error, and following the upcoming runoff election, we will launch an investigation and review of procedures to ensure this never happens again,” election leaders said in a press release.

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