Unusual Special Election to Decide Disputed Yalobusha County, MS Sheriff’s Race

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A Mississippi judge has ordered Yalobusha County (Coffeeville) to conduct a special election in just two precincts to resolve a dispute over the results of the recent sheriff’s race. WTVA has more:

A judge ruled Tuesday that Yalobusha County must hold a special election in two precincts to decide who should be the county’s next sheriff.

The decision by Judge Jeff Weill of Hinds County is the result of a hearing over an election challenge filed by Luther Folson, who lost the November general election to Mark Fulco by two votes.

Circuit Clerk Daryl Burney said the precincts where the voting will take place again is Beat 1 North, which includes the Old Depot area of Water Valley, and Beat 4 Oakland.

Results from those two precincts will be added to the general election totals from the other precincts to determine a winner.

Burney did not have a date for the special election, but it is typically 60 days after a judge’s ruling.

He added each of those precincts has approximately 1,000 voters.

The judge ruled a special election was necessary because four absentee ballots — two from each precinct — were processed illegally and he could not determine the preference of those four voters.

It appears the issue may have been voters casting both in-person and absentee ballots:

Folson said he found issues with four precincts during a review of the ballots shortly after the election.

However, Fulco’s attorney said disqualifying the election would cancel out the voting rights of people who did not have tainted ballots.

Folson’s attorney said there were absentee ballots in question.

In one case, Folson’s attorney asked the Circuit Clerk if one person voted both absentee and on a regular ballot. The clerk said yes, but it is the poll workers’ responsibility to see that does not happen.

This new election is unusual because it is confined just to the two precincts in question rather than across the county – a remedy which spares the county the cost of a full re-run but which still creates new challenges for the special. It’s also very likely that the special will not take place when Yalobusha goes to the polls on March 10 for the statewide primary, which will require the clerk’s office to prepare for yet another election day. Needless to say, the Yalobusha clerk’s will have its work cut out for it in the months ahead during what will already be a busy 2020 election season. Stay tuned …

3 Comments on "Unusual Special Election to Decide Disputed Yalobusha County, MS Sheriff’s Race"

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