Ballot counting begins

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 26, 2009

NATCHEZ — As Adams County awaits the announcement of its new sheriff, election commissioners have set up a loose timeline for ballot counting.

Currently, unofficial election numbers show Chuck Mayfield leading Ray Brown by 221 votes.

Eight hundred-thirty-three absentee ballots remain to be counted.

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Election Commissioner Mitch Ballard said he didn’t feel comfortable setting a time for when official results would be in.

“I hate to even give a time,” Election Commissioner Mitch Ballard said. “It’s one of those things where we’ll be done when we get done with counting the ballots.”

Ballard said the first step of the absentee-ballot-counting process was taken care of Tuesday night.

“The poll workers have already counted the absentee ballots, and according to law, determined which ones are acceptable and which ones aren’t,” Ballard said.

In order to create a setting of maximum security and to ensure the ballots remain untouched until Monday morning, ballot boxes are being stored in a jail cell on the second floor of the courthouse.

Two keys are needed to gain access to the room where they are being kept, and each box is sealed and padlocked to ensure maximum security.

The next step in validating the guarded absentee ballots is the responsibility of the elections resolution board, which will meet at the courthouse at 9 a.m. Monday morning.

“The ballots are still in the envelopes sealed. The resolution board will open the ballots and count them,” Ballard said.

With so many ballots to validate, Ballard said counting might take a little longer than originally anticipated.

“We’re going to try our hardest to get done as quickly as we can because this sheriff will go into office as soon as the election is certified,” Ballard said.

Aside from canvassing boxes, commissioners will also be keeping track of who voted in the election.

“Commissioners will go through the poll books and put in everyone who voted so we’ll have a record of that particular person voting in that election,” Ballard said.

“We have 21,000 names to go through and click if they’ve voted or not,” Ballard said. “We’ll have commissioners working on that as well.

“We wanted to try to get it all done Monday, but with the volume of it, I don’t think we’re going to be able to do it in a day,” Ballard said.