Senate race still unresolved
NATCHEZ — Former Sen. Bob Dearing added to his lead in Adams County for the District 37 Senate race Monday, but complications with electronic elections equipment means some unofficial elections results still haven’t been submitted to the state.
And even if the lead Dearing appears to have after Adams County counting holds, enough ballots are uncounted in Pike County to sway the election in the other direction.
While the absentee ballots have been counted in Adams County, only those that were counted by the election resolution board have been tallied in the county election commission’s general election summary.
Dearing, D-Natchez, now has 3,700 votes in Adams County, ahead of the incumbent Sen. Melanie Sojourner, R-Natchez, who has 1,770 votes in the county.
The ballots tallied by the resolution board were absentee votes that were rejected by the optical scanning machine.
The machine accepted approximately 200 ballots, but Election Commissioner Larry Gardner said Monday the results wouldn’t upload to the state server and he had to travel to Jackson for some elements to be inspected.
With the ballots from the Adams County resolution board counted, Sojourner has 8,068 votes while Dearing has 8,026 throughout District 37.
But those who observed optical scanning said Dearing also received 150 votes in those ballots, and Sojourner received 55.
If those numbers hold true, Dearing would hold the lead with 8,176 votes to Sojourner’s 8,123.
Sojourner said she does not want to trust any count of votes until an official summary report can be printed with all of the ballots.
“There is no point in even guessing until we know what these numbers are, until we know for a fact that they have come out of the machine,” Sojourner said.
“The main thing is making sure that election integrity is upheld and everything is above board and done properly.”
The other factor in the race is a large number of uncounted affidavit ballots in Pike County, where the overall votes counted leaned heavily toward Sojourner.
The Pike County Election Commission still has four precincts left to canvass before the ballots can be counted, with one of those precincts falling in Senate District 37.
Dearing said Monday afternoon 86 ballots had been accepted and 29 rejected from the 11 Pike County precincts in the district that had been canvassed.
“We are still optimistic, and I think our chances are real good on a slim margin, but we will have to wait and see,” Dearing said.
Sojourner said she was promised the Pike County election commission would finish counting votes Tuesday.
“They said in no uncertain terms they are going to finish the count (Tuesday) because Wednesday is Veteran’s Day,” she said. “We should know something Tuesday evening or Tuesday night.”