Barber files to contest justice court judge election
Published 12:51 am Wednesday, December 13, 2017
NATCHEZ — Southern District Justice Court Judge candidate Danny Barber submitted a petition Tuesday to contest results of the Nov. 29 special election.
After consulting an election attorney in Jackson Monday, Barber said he decided to petition the court to throw out an absentee vote that was improperly signed and counted on election day.
After counting affidavit and absentee ballots on Nov. 30, the election commission declared Eileen Mary Maher the winner of the election by one vote, with having Maher 867 votes and Barber 866.
Maher could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
While inspecting election materials on Dec. 7, Barber said he found one absentee vote on which both the voter and the witness did not sign across the fold of the envelope, as is stipulated by federal law.
“All I’m asking for is a judge to declare a tie and for us to do a coin toss,” Barber said. “That’s fair to me and it’s fair to her.”
Mississippi law says in the event of a tie a coin toss decides the winner.
“You know, her campaign slogan was ‘Fairness to all,’” Barber said. “That’s all I want.”
After copies of the petition are delivered to Election Commissioner Larry Gardner and Maher, the Supreme Court will pick a judge to oversee the case.
Barber said he is not sure exactly how long the process with take.
“If it gets thrown out, it gets thrown out,” Barber said. “That ballot should have been caught at the poll. I have to do this to be fair to the citizens of Adams County.”
Gardner said he has not yet received the petition. At this point, Gardner said the election is out of his hands.
“We’ve already certified the election, so there isn’t much we can do,” Gardner said. “Whatever happens now is up to the judge.”
Gardner said this is the first time to his knowledge that anyone has contested an election in Adams County.
“We’ve had people ask to see the boxes,” he said. “We’ve never had someone legally contest the vote.”
Gardner said he does not know if the vote can be thrown out since it was accepted at the polling station.
“His time to contest that was the night of the election,” Gardner said. “I don’t know that he can come back and contest it later. It has to be challenged that night.”