Election night ends in questions

Published 3:32 am Wednesday, August 8, 2007

NATCHEZ — The Adams County Courthouse was a scene of controlled chaos Wednesday night with periods of dull waiting.

Election results trickled in. The last precinct reported at 8:30 p.m., but the unofficial results were not in until roughly 11 p.m.

The new machine aimed at tabulating the electronic voting results took longer than the old one, Election Commissioner Larry Gardner said.

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Rolls of paper listing results from each precinct were taped up as they came in. Election officials couldn’t find the one from one of the last precincts.

Out of all the activity came election results, but not firm ones. Several races came down to runoffs between two candidates.

But final and official numbers won’t be available until the Democratic and Republican parties count and verify absentee and affidavit ballots.

When a voter isn’t on the voting rolls at a precinct, they can sign a legal document swearing they are who they claim and that they live in that precinct. They then cast their ballot.

It will likely take a few days to go through all the paper ballots, Gardner said.

An employee at the circuit clerk’s office said they had received roughly 1,130 absentee votes, and Gardner said his office fielded roughly 1,000 calls about affidavit ballots.

“That could easily change the outcome of the election,” Gardner said. “That’s 10 percent of the registered voters.”

It was an eventful day for the precincts, too. One poll worker at Duncan Park said a number of affidavit ballots were taken when she was not looking. She said she suspected a candidate’s relative of taking the ballots. A police report was filed on the matter, and Circuit Clerk M.L. “Binkey” Vines said he would file suit.

“We’re going after them,” Vines said.