Election problems continue

Published 12:01 am Thursday, September 6, 2007

Woodville — Candidates contesting the Aug. 7 election will head to the Wilkinson County courthouse to begin the process today.

However, whether that meeting and its results will stand is in question.

The meeting was set Aug. 28 by 16 members of the Wilkinson County Democratic Executive Committee — a one vote majority for the 31-member committee.

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The stated agenda for the meeting will be to decide procedure for election contest investigations and to declare the final results of the August election.

Circuit clerk candidate Lynn Delaney, sheriff candidate Jessie Stewart and supervisor candidates Kirk Smith and Wally Cavin all filed petitions to contest the election with the committee.

The candidates decided to file contests after reports of election irregularities and after they reportedly found enough evidence to question some of the absentee ballots cast in the election.

Mississippi law requires party executive committees to call a meeting to decide an election within 20 days of a contest being filed.

The chairperson or three members of the committee can call the meeting.

On Aug. 29, committee Chair Easter Prater sent a letter to members stating she had received contest petitions from the four candidates who wish to contest the election.

Prater’s letter declared today’s meeting moot and stated four separate dates have been set for investigation into the election contests.

Prater set the contest for circuit clerk for Sept. 27, the contest for sheriff for Oct. 4, the contest for District 2 supervisor (Smith) for Oct. 14 and the contest for District 4 supervisor (Cavin) for Oct. 21.

The candidates first filed their contest paperwork on Aug. 22.

Centreville resident Ann Greer said she plans to be at the meeting Thursday, but was unsure how much would actually be accomplished.

“They (Prater and supporters) will probably try to shut us down,” she said.

Greer also said she was worried the dates Prater set were past the legal time span to contest the election or appeal it to the state Supreme Court.

Greer was elected chair of the Democratic Committee July 13 by a vote of 19 of the committee’s members, reportedly because Prater was not fulfilling her duties as chairwoman.

Prater was vice-chair of the committee until she assumed her current position when it was vacated by the death of the former chair in April.

Greer would never have been elected if Prater had allowed committee members to participate in the committee’s work, Greer said.

“She has certainly not included (the) 19 of us in anything,” Greer said. “Not the vote certification, not the preparation, nothing.”

The state Democratic Committee does not recognize Greer as the chair.

Greer said reports of committee division along racial lines are not true.

“It’s not a black versus white issue,” she said. “I’m very sorry it has gotten to this point.”