Originally created 08/25/06

Board rules Brown fails to qualify for election



Augusta District 4 Commissioner Keith Brown's name won't be on the November special election ballot.

The Richmond County Board of Elections agreed unanimously Thursday that Mr. Brown is not qualified to run for the seat because he does not meet the two-year state residency requirement.

The board heard evidence in District 4 candidate Alvin Mason's challenge.

After a lengthy hearing and deliberations, the five-member board agreed that Mr. Brown lost his Georgia residency when he voted in a South Carolina election Nov. 2, 2004.

Board members also cited other determining factors presented during the hearing, such as the fact Mr. Brown has never voted in Georgia, didn't register to vote until August 2005 and didn't obtain a Georgia driver's license until June of this year after he became an Augusta commissioner.

In addition, when Mr. Brown was stopped by officers for speeding in Richmond County in April and in South Carolina for two other traffic violations in 2003, he gave them his South Carolina driver's license, which listed his address as 275 Duncan Road, North Augusta. Mr. Brown also gave officers a North Augusta phone number.

Although Mr. Brown's attorney John Long presented a lease agreement showing that Mr. Brown rented an apartment on Welch Lane in Augusta in December 2003, there was no evidence any bills ever came to Mr. Brown at that address.

"I have some reservations that he was ever a citizen of the state of Georgia," Board Chairwoman Linda Beazley said.

Mr. Brown was appointed to the District 4 seat by city commissioners in May until a special election could be held to fill Commissioner Richard Colclough's term, which ends Dec. 31, 2007.

Mr. Brown said he was surprised by the board's decision, considering that commissioners had refused to remove him earlier this month at Mr. Mason's request.

Mr. Brown can appeal the decision to Richmond County Superior Court within 10 days.