Challenge expected in Kemper County
By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
Sept. 10, 2003
A member of the Kemper County Democratic Executive Committee said Tuesday he expects his panel to hold a hearing as quickly as possible if results from the party runoff for sheriff are contested.
Marvin Wiggins, an attorney, said the committee would act as quickly as possible because the general election is Nov. 4.
Johnny Harpole lost by 45 votes to incumbent Sheriff Samuel Tisdale in the Aug. 26 Democratic Party runoff. Harpole and his attorney began reviewing ballot boxes last week, finishing the task Monday.
Wiggins and Kemper County Circuit Clerk Roma Allen said they were not aware of what problems, if any, had been discovered by Harpole and his attorney, Bill Ready Jr. of Meridian.
On Monday, Ready said the box review revealed many problems including some people voting in the election who shouldn't have. He said a petition to contest the election could be filed with the county's Democratic executive committee.
Tisdale said today he is confident he will be certified the winner if the runoff is officially contested.
He added that the runoff was the first time he has ever used poll watchers. He said he used two at precincts in Scooba after getting a call from a supporter who said they thought something was wrong.
He said he did not have details on what the person was suspicious of.
Wiggins said candidates have 20 days after a primary election to file a petition stating what they think is wrong.
Monday is the deadline to file a petition with the committee.
Wiggins said that after a candidate goes through a box review it is expected that they will file a petition to contest the election.
He said he has seen party committees in different counties act in many ways including throwing out absentee ballots; leaving election certifications as they were; or affirm something went wrong but not change the outcome.
In a hearing, Wiggins said the committee acts as a "quasi-judicial" body.
He said a hearing would go before the entire committee, which has more than 20 members. He said any action would be determined by a simple majority of the committee members.