Justice court judge plans to contest election

Published 12:05 am Saturday, December 9, 2017


NATCHEZ — Southern District Justice Court judge candidate Danny Barber said he plans to contest one of the ballots cast in the Nov. 29 runoff election in which he lost by single vote.

Barber said he plans to go Monday to an election attorney in Jackson, where he will discuss his options for moving forward with an election challenge.

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The trouble with challenging the vote, Election Commissioner Larry Gardner said, is that there is no way to throw out a vote that has already been cast.

It is against federal and state law to reveal for which candidate the voter voted. To throw out the vote, someone would have to first know who that person voted for.

“There’s not a way to determine what that vote would be,” Gardner said.

Eileen Mary Maher won the Southern District Justice Court Judge race on Nov. 29 in a special election by a single vote.

Maher declined to comment for this article.

After reviewing the voting materials Thursday, Barber found that one absentee ballot had not been signed correctly.

Absentee ballots have to be signed by the voter and a witness and the ink of their signatures must cross both the envelope’s seal. Neither the voter’s nor the signature of the witness crossed the envelope seal on one absentee ballot.

By law, a ballot that is incorrectly signed will be thrown out.

“This should have been caught by the poll worker,” Barber said. “They should have picked that up.”

If Barber files the challenge, Gardner said the Mississippi Supreme Court would appoint a retired judge to decide the case as soon as possible.

Since it is impossible to throw out the vote, Gardner said the judge would make the decision on what happens next.

A tie could be determined, resulting in either a special election or a coin toss to see who becomes the next judge.

In that instance, Barber said he prefers the coin toss.

“I’m satisfied with a coin toss,” Barber said. “Go for a coin toss. If she wins, she wins. If I win, I win. That’s not an expense to the taxpayers.”