Voters wait for decision in District 37

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 7, 2016

Five Mississippi senators are tasked with figuring out what kept portions of Southwest Mississippi in suspense for days — who won the Senate District 37 race.

A special committee appointed by Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves will hear the election challenge of incumbent Sen. Melanie Sojourner, R-Natchez.

Sojourner lost the official, certified race by a 64-vote margin.

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But she contends election irregularities at several precincts in Adams and Franklin counties resulted in her losing the race to her Democratic opponent, former Sen. Bob Dearing, also of Natchez.

Challenging the race is Sojourner’s prerogative, but we don’t like the options the Senate committee can take in this case.

Effectively, the committee could appoint either candidate to the seat, declare the seat vacant or order a new election — either for the entire district or certain precincts.

If the committee appoints anyone temporarily, it should be Dearing as the rightful owner — at least at this point — to the most votes.

Ultimately, the committee may need to simply call for another election. Although probably not allowable by law, if possible, we’d prefer the committee limited voting to only people who actually came out to vote in the November general election. That would prevent widespread packing the polls that could occur otherwise.

The committee expects to have its recommendation to the full Senate by Jan. 18. Regardless of the outcome, the waiting game for District 37 voters will continue a bit longer.