1. (a) lt is presumed that entries and orders of a public official are true.
(b) In the absence of proof to the contrary, elections held under legally constituted authority are presumed to be regular and valid.
On July 13, 1954, the State of Georgia, by and through J. Bowie Gray, Solicitor-General of the Tifton Judicial Circuit, filed in the Superior Court of Turner County, Georgia, a petition against Turner County School District, in which it was alleged that an election had been called in said county for the issuance of bonds, the proceeds of which were to be used for the purpose of providing funds for the building and equipping of school buildings, repairing and improving existing school facilities, and acquiring the necessary property therefor for the Turner County School System, and paying expenses incident thereto in the amount of $225,000. The petition alleged that, in compliance with the law, an election had been held, the results of which were in favor of the issuance of such bonds, and the prayers of the petition were that such bonds should be confirmed and validated.
The Turner County School District, by and through qualified and acting members of the Board of Education of Turner County, Georgia, filed its answer to this petition, August 14, 1954.
On the same day (August 14, 1954), W. G. Searcy, J. C. Kennedy, M. A. Hobby, George B. Shepherd, Ralph Paulk, F. T. Hale, Arthur Mauldin, M. B. Pilkinton, L. F. Townson, and J. M. Morgan, all of whom are citizens of Turner County, Georgia, filed their petition to intervene as defendants in such cause, and on the same day such intervention was allowed by Hon. W. C. Forehand, Judge of the Superior Court of such county, and they were made parties defendant.
Under an agreement entered into at that time by all of the parties interested, consented to and approved by the court, evidence was taken before a commissioner, and thereafter on September 23, 1954, the evidence was submitted to Hon. W. C. Forehand, judge of the superior court of such county.
The parties to the case further stipulated that the only issue to be considered by the trial judge was whether the voters residing in the City of Sycamore or the City of Ashburn or Town of Rebecca were residents of territory embraced within an independent school system, so as not to be legally entitled to vote at the bond election.
The evidence shows that the City of Sycamore and the Town of Rebecca had charter powers granted each of them to establish independent school systems. At the time that each of these municipalities were, by amendments to their respective charters, granted this power, they both were included in the school system of Turner County. No election was held either in the City of Sycamore or in the Town of Rebecca for the purpose of determining whether the municipality in question would in fact establish an independent school system, though in both localities elections were held submitting to the voters the question of voting bonds for the erection and equipment of a school building, and the bonds were voted and sold. The building and fixtures were obtained with the proceeds of the sales of the bonds, and for a time the schools were actually operated at both places on a quasi-independent basis, the municipalities furnishing the building, fixtures, teachers, and management of the schools, and the county furnishing funds to defray in part expense of operating the schools. There was no other proof of the establishment of an independent school system in the City of Sycamore or the Town of Rebecca. The record also discloses that, for a number of years prior to the bond issue involved in this case, both towns had abandoned their schools to the county and allowed them to be operated entirely by and under the authority of the county school board.
Against Repeal Votes received 1
(Signed) W. W. Cowan
Mrs. Frank W. Rogers
J. L. North
Thereafter, the Mayor of the City of Ashburn issued the following proclamation: "City of Ashburn--The managers of the election, held in the City of Ashburn, Georgia, for the purpose of deciding whether the special school law under which the city schools have been operating shall be annulled and the city school system be merged with the county school system, having filed their report, Now, I, H. M. Harp, Mayor of the City of Ashburn, do declare that said election resulted in favor of repeal of the special act creating the independent school system in the City of Ashburn. Given under my hand and official seal this 6th day of September, 1945. (Signed) H. M. Harp."
1. The issue in the trial court was whether the voters residing in the Town of Rebecca, City of Sycamore, and City of Ashburn were legally qualified to vote. This issue turned upon the question as to whether the territory in which they resided composed independent school systems and was not included within Turner County School District. This court reviews the judgment of the court validating the bonds and incidentally deciding that the voters residing in the named municipality were qualified to vote in the bond election.
There was evidence authorizing the trial court to find that the territory within the City of Sycamore and the Town of Rebecca was originally, and had never ceased to be, embraced in that composing the Turner County School District. True the evidence showed that bond elections were held in each of those municipalities to raise money with which to build or buy and equip a school building. However, it appeared without dispute that the necessary procedure under Code 32-1109 had not been complied with by either Sycamore or Rebecca, nor had either of them held a special election as required by its charter to determine whether there would be established with it an independent school system.
There was evidence authorizing the court to find that the City of Ashburn, though originally having within its boundary an independent school system, had abolished it and legally consolidated it with Turner County School System, so that it became a part of the county school system, all as required by Code Chapter 32-12. It appeared without dispute that the election held for that purpose was legally called, advertised, and its results were proclaimed by its mayor, in 1945.
While no petition signed by registered voters of the City of Ashburn was in evidence, the order of the Mayor of the City of Ashburn calling the election to determine whether the act creating the city's independent school system would be repealed and the city's school system consolidated with that of Turner County, contained an unequivocal declaration that more than one-fourth of the qualified voters had filed a petition with the mayor requesting that an election be held for that purpose. The mayor was a public official, and it is presumed that his entries and orders were true. Georgia Power Co. v. Fincher, 46 Ga. App. 524
(168 S. E. 109); Jarrett v. City of Boston, 209 Ga. 530
, 531 (74 S. E. 2d 549). Moreover, where elections are held under legally constituted authority, they are in the absence of proof to the contrary, presumed regular and valid. Lepinsky v. State, 7 Ga. App. 285 (4)
(66 S. E. 965); Walker v. Hall, 161 Ga. 460 (1)
(131 S. E. 160).
The trial judge did not err in holding that the territory embraced in the municipalities of Ashburn, Sycamore, and Rebecca was a part of that comprising the Turner County School District and in ordering the school bonds voted for that school district validated.
2. The intervenors interposed an objection to the order of the Mayor of Ashburn calling the election, to decide whether the establishment of the special school law would be annulled and its school system be consolidated with that of the School District of Turner County; the oath taken by the election managers officiating at the election; and their returns showing its results. The ground of the objection was that these documents did not constitute proof of the matters contained in them, especially that they were not proof that one-fourth of the qualified voters of the City of Ashburn filed a petition with the Mayor of the City of Ashburn requesting that the election be held. We have held in this opinion that the order of the mayor was evidence that the required number of the city's registered voters had petitioned him that the election be held, and the other documents objected to were not offered for the purpose of showing that fact, but were pertinent and competent evidence to show that the election was in fact held and resulted in the abolition of the City of Ashburn's school system and the consolidation of its school system with the county system. The objection was not well taken.
Judgment affirmed. Felton, C. J., and Nichols, J., concur.