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Harpole wants runoff votes thrown out

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
Sept. 15, 2003
Kemper County sheriff's candidate Johnny Harpole charges that last month's Democratic Party runoff featured convicted felons who cast ballots and sheriff's deputies who took inmates to the polls.
Harpole, who lost by 45 votes to incumbent Democrat Samuel Tisdale, has filed a petition contesting the Aug. 26 party runoff. Harpole wants to be declared the winner.
Tisdale could not be reached for comment. If the Aug. 26 runoff results stand, Tisdale will meet independents Rusty Calvert, Ronnie Rankin and Glen Williams in the Nov. 4 general election.
Ready filed the petition for Harpole on Friday with the Kemper County Democratic Executive Committee, asking the panel to schedule a formal hearing.
The petition states that Harpole "would show that this election was fraught with substantial and material deviations from the requirements of law."
Besides charging that convicted felons voted and deputies drove inmates to the polls, Harpole's petition also states that deputies waited at the polling precincts for the prisoners to cast ballots.
Other charges include: deceased people appear on the voter sign-in list; people voted in precincts in which they did not live; and ballots rejected by the voting machine were left uncounted.
The petition does not name the deputies or the prisoners and convicted felons who allegedly voted. It also does not list the names of deceased people who allegedly appeared on the sign-in list.
The petition also charges that 50 absentee ballots are missing and unaccounted for and that numerous names on the voter sign-in poll books were written by the same hand.
Other issues raised include that the party counted absentee ballots that were not notarized or were incomplete and the number of signatures of voters didn't match the number of votes counted.
Ready said he believes there will be a substantial difference in the outcome of the election once the problems are addressed and that Harpole would be declared the winner.