Election master to be picked

Published 12:13 am Tuesday, March 18, 2008

WOODVILLE — The parties involved in the Wilkinson County primary election do-over have until noon today to submit names for whom they think should be special master of the election.

The special master will be a neutral third party to oversee the election.

Judge Jim Persons is also expected to soon give evidence from a January contempt of court hearing for Circuit Clerk Mon Cree Allen to the Supreme Court.

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Allen was charged by the high court of felony contempt after he allegedly committed actions that disallowed candidates contesting the election from reviewing ballot boxes after receiving an order from the Supreme Court on Aug. 22.

At the contempt hearing, Allen pleaded his Fifth Amendment right not to testify in a criminal trial.

The Supreme Court will ultimately decide the end result of the contempt hearing.

Public Information Officer for the Administrative Office of Courts Beverly Kraft said she was unaware of anything regarding the contempt hearing being filed in the clerk of the Supreme Court’s office as of Monday.

Persons, who oversaw the election contest and called for the new election, did so after tossing out all of the paper ballots in the election because the court could not establish that they had not been tampered with.

The will of the voters could not be determined without the paper ballots, Persons said.

The contest was filed by Allen, Supervisor Richard Hollins and Sheriff Reginald “Pip” Jackson, who were the declared winners of the Aug. 9 Wilkinson County democratic primary until 17 of the 31 members of the Wilkinson County Democratic Executive Committee voted to toss out the paper ballots from the election.

That decision changed the winners of the election to circuit clerk candidate Jeanette “Lynn” Tolliver Delaney, district two supervisor candidate Kirk Smith and sheriff candidate Jessie Stewart, all three of whom alleged widespread fraud and voter intimidation.

During the trial, attorneys for Allen, Hollins and Jackson denied all of the allegations and in turn accused the respondents of similar actions.

The special run-off election will be April 15 and the general election will be May 20.