12/05/2017, Atlanta, GA, - Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed casts his vote for the Atlanta mayoral run-off election at Fickett Elementary School, Tuesday, December 5, 2017. A few days later, the mayor threatened unsuccessful mayoral candidate Mary Norwood with legal action because of accusations that his campaign manipulated voters in 2009. ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM
Photo: Alyssa Pointer
Photo: Alyssa Pointer

Mayor Reed demands Mary Norwood retract voter fraud allegations

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has threatened former Atlanta mayoral candidate Mary Norwood with legal action over statements about voter impersonation that she made earlier this year.

In a letter dated Friday, an attorney representing Reed wrote that Norwood’s accusation of voter manipulation in the 2009 election had damaged Reed’s reputation.

In June remarks to the Buckhead Young Republicans that were obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mary Norwood accuses Kasim Reed of widespread voter fraud, including “late night fluffing” of vote counts and encouraging former city residents who rely on government assistance to cast ballots.

The attorney, L. Lin Wood, demands in the letter that Norwood retract her statements.

Wood also tells Norwood to preserve any records related to her comments, which were secretly recorded at a meeting of young Republicans in June.

Norwood said in a statement that the threatened lawsuit was “just another attempt to harass and intimidate me.”

“In his final days in office, Mr. Reed apparently is having a difficult time relinquishing his job as Mayor,” the statement said.

Norwood lost the 2009 election to Reed by 714 votes. And last week, she suffered another defeat in her second to bid to become mayor when she lost to fellow City Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms by a similar margin. Reed had endorsed Bottoms.

The election was certified by the Fulton and DeKalb county election authorities on Monday. Norwood is seeking a recount.

Some have partly blamed Norwood’s loss on the recording. In it, Norwood says that the Reed campaign obtained confidential list of former Atlanta Housing Authority residents that had since moved outside the city, but remained registered to vote in Altanta.

She accuses Reed’s campaign of seeking out those former residents and convincing them to cast ballots for Reed.

The comments were reminiscent of statements made by President Donald Trump who claimed that voter manipulation was the reason he failed to win the popular vote in the 2016 election.

In a statement on Monday, Bottoms referenced other comments by Norwood in the recording, in which Norwood talks about getting herself appointed to the Fulton County Board of Elections and Registration in 2013.

“Mary Norwood is now questioning the very same board she was supposed to clean up,” Bottoms said. “Be that as it may, I look forward to naming my transition co-chairs tomorrow.”

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