Miss. AG agrees with ballot toss

Published 1:36 am Saturday, September 22, 2007

Woodville — The Wilkinson County election controversy took another twist this week in what could result in more than one set of ballots at the Nov. 6 general election.

Last week, the Mississippi Attorney General wrote an opinion siding with the 17 members of the Wilkinson County Democratic Executive Committee who voted Sept. 6 to throw out all paper ballots from the August Democratic primary.

The discarded ballots included absentee, affidavit and curbside ballots and were thrown out after candidates contesting the election gave testimony of improper handling of the ballots and even leveled charges of vote buying.

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When the ballots were thrown out, the results of three of the elections changed.

Wilkinson County Sheriff Reginald Jackson, Circuit Clerk Mon Cree Allen and District Two Supervisor Richard Hollins — who were the declared winners until Sept. 6 — have since filed for a judicial review in the matter.

Allen, Hollins and Jackson all said the allegations that resulted in the ballots being thrown out are untrue.

On Sept. 13, three of the five Wilkinson County election commissioners met, and based on the advice of the Attorney General, voted to order election ballots with the names of Sheriff candidate Jessie Stewart, Circuit Clerk candidate Jeanette “Lynn” Tolliver and District Two Supervisor candidate Kirk Smith on them, election commissioner Jerrie Love said.

“We decided based on that (opinion),” she said.

Smith, Stewart and Tolliver were the declared winners after the Sept. 6 meeting.

However, Allen — who as circuit clerk is responsible for ordering the ballots —has reportedly refused to order them from the Secretary of State’s Office.

On Monday, the Wilkinson County Board of Supervisors met, reportedly at the request of Denise Poole, one of the commissioners who did not attend the Sept. 13 meeting.

Poole is the acting chair of the election commissioners, and Mississippi law allows for a board of supervisors to authorize ballots if there are no election commissioners or if the commissioners fail to act.

The supervisors voted to authorize Allen to order ballots with the names of Allen, Hollins and Jackson on them.

Come Nov. 6, if the elections commissioners are faced with choosing between two sets of ballots, Love said it would be an easy decision for her.

“We would choose whichever one the Secretary of State’s Office told us to use,” she said.