Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lotson Prevails in Darien Voting Residency Dispute; McIntosh Elections Panel Accepts Councilman's Explanation

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lotson Prevails in Darien Voting Residency Dispute; McIntosh Elections Panel Accepts Councilman's Explanation

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson

DARIEN | The McIntosh County Board of Elections voted Thursday that City Councilman Griffin Lotson's legal residence is in a group home that he operates as a business.

With its vote, the board turned back an official challenge of Lotson's voter registration in which City Councilman Jeff Clark asserted that the address under which Lotson is registered is not actually where he lives. Had the board found that Lotson did not live at 1033 Poppell Drive, his registration would have been invalidated and he would have been compelled to leave the City Council.

Also, the Board of Elections can now count the provisional ballot Lotson cast Tuesday. He was issued a provisional ballot because his registration was being contested.

The Georgia Secretary of State Election Division said the board had until Friday to decide on Lotson's registration, count or discard his provisional ballot and to certify the results of the Tuesday election as official. Lotson had no opposition for re-election while Clark lost to Augustus "Bubba" Skeen.

Thursday's hearing on the residency was actually a continuation of a hearing that opened Monday night, where Loston offered water, electricity and gas bills from the address that are in his name. He also said he had moved his homestead exemption to 1033 Popell Drive, but the documents he tendered said there was no homestead exemption there.

As he did in a rambling presentation Thursday, Lotson said Monday that mistakes had been made, but they were not his.

"I didn't realize it wasn't accepted as a homestead," he said.

Lotson testified Thursday he has again applied for homestead exemption on the property, which was formerly denied, and that he has made sure to change the addresses on his driver's license and other documents.

"I do a lot of humanitarian work," trying to find homes for people, Lotson said.

The six people living in the four-bedroom house are all there under a state contract, he said.

Lotson said he first got into the business of taking in other people as a "host home," which has a requirement that the host live in the house and take in no more than two tenants. …

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