Election contest continues

Published 12:17 am Tuesday, February 19, 2008

WOODVILLE — Three more witnesses took the stand Monday in the ongoing Wilkinson County election contest.

Three candidates, circuit clerk candidate Lynn Tolliver Delaney, sheriff candidate Jessie Stewart and supervisor candidate Kirk Smith have challenged the results of the Aug. 7 Wilkinson County Democratic primary.

Those they are challenging are Circuit Clerk Mon Cree Allen, Sheriff Reginald “Pip” Jackson and Supervisor Richard Hollins.

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The first witness on the stand, Wilkinson County resident Josey Boyd, who testified she took notes at the Aug. 22 examination of ballot boxes by candidates who wanted to contest the election.

Boyd said her notes were taken on behalf Stewart and Smith.

Attorneys from both sides of the cased asked Boyd if she knew the seal numbers on the election boxes or if she knew their origin.

Boyd could give the seal numbers when she consulted her notes, but she could not recall for certain who presented boxes or seals to the candidates that night.

The next witness to take the stand was Willie Mae Betty Cage, of Wilkinson County.

When asked if Bonita Hollins had paid her to vote for the defendants, she denied it.

“They always give me money when I need it,” Cage said. “Nobody pays me to vote. I vote for who I want.”

When attorney Dennis Horn played a tape he said was a conversation between Stewart and Cage about having her vote bought, Cage denied it was her voice. The tape was not admitted as evidence.

Cage also alleged Stewart did not tell her he was recording the conversation, and that once he had threatened to send a state trooper after her.

The third witness to take the stand, Mary “Suzy” Daughdrill, of Centreville, was the subject of the rest of the day’s testimony.

Many of the questions directed at Daughdrill concerned the notification of members of the Wilkinson County Democratic Executive Committee about several meetings.

When asked why 19 of the members of the committee were not notified by certified mail but 12 — all of who were black — were, Daughdrill said it was to make sure no one was left out.

“We wanted to be especially sure that they were included,” she said. “I felt like it was important personally that those members were notified.”

Daughdrill said when it came time for the election, white members of the committee were excluded from the election preparation and certification, and that they had been threatened with arrest.

When questioned about the Sept. 6 decision by the 19 white members of the Wilkinson County Democratic Executive Committee to toss out all curbside, affidavit and absentee ballots, Daughdrill admitted the committee did not examine the ballots that day.

When Attorney Deborah McDonald, representing incumbent Mon Cree Allen, asked Daughdrill if anyone had asked to see the ballots between Aug. 7 and Sept. 6, she responded that she did not know.

“When you have been threatened with arrest that gives you a little different frame of mind,” Daughdrill said.

Daughdrill testified the committee asked to get the ballots to examine them on Sept. 6, but that they were unable to do so.

“In other words, what you did was accept everything on (the contestants’) petition,” McDonald said.

Daughdrill also testified that attorneys for the defendants were present at the Sept. 6 meeting but left before presenting any argument to keep the contested ballots.

The matter will resume today.