While a swearing-in of three council members is scheduled for noon Monday at City Hall, a petition to contest the Dec. 9 city election results for the Ward 1 Council Member seat was filed on Friday, Dec. 27.
Ward 1 Council Member candidate Oliver Johnson is contesting the election in which he received 171 votes to Councilman-elect William “Al” Brock’s 180 votes.
Losing by nine votes, Johnson said he first reviewed the ballots before actually filing the petition within the designated 20-day time frame after the election to make sure he had enough extenuating evidence to justify his contest and filing reasoning.
“When I went through it and saw that someone was allowed to vote on an electronic machine without an ID, which is against the Secretary of State’s law,” Johnson said, noting it was then he knew filing the petition would be necessary.
“If you don’t have an ID, you’re supposed to do an affidavit ballot and if you’re caught voting without an ID, that violates election ethics code 97-13-19,” he said.
The violated code in question, 97-13-19, states, “If any manager, clerk, or any other officer whatever, assisting or engaged in conducting any election, or charged with any duty in reference to any election, shall designedly omit to do any official act required by law, or designedly do any illegal act in relation to any general or special election, by which act or omission the votes taken at any such election in any district shall be lost, or the electors thereof shall be deprived of their suffrage at such election, or shall designedly do any act which shall render such election void, or shall be guilty of any corrupt conduct or partiality in his official capacity at such election, he shall, upon conviction, be imprisoned, in the penitentiary for a term not exceeding two years.”
Some of the allegations concerning the election and grounds for the contest listed in the petition claim a poll watcher was denied access to verify the “Zero Total Reports” upon entering the Buster Brown polling precinct at 6:55 a.m., which is contrary to State of Mississippi General Guidelines pertaining to poll watchers.
The petition immediately goes on to state, “Per logic and accuracy testing done on Dec. 5, 2019 at 9:30 a.m., the petitioner and other candidates were told each poll watcher/observer is allowed to examine the ‘O report’ for the accuracy tape on the wall.”
Per Secretary of State, State of Mississippi General Guidelines Pertaining to Poll Watchers, poll watchers are entitled to see and hear the manner in which election is conducted.
Thus, each polling place should be arranged in such a way as to afford poll watchers a place to sit where they may be comfortable and see as well as hear the election process, but not so close to interfere in the election process, compromise a voter’s privacy or intimidate voters.
The petition also alleges on Dec. 9, Brock and his wife, Mitzi Brock, were inside the polling precinct and that their presence could have intimidated voters and or sway them to vote in favor of her husband.
According to Johnson’s petition, a poll manager noted Mitzi “constantly thanked voters for voting for her husband as they passed in and out in,” which is a violation of Miss. Code Ann. 23-15-577.
In addition, the petition alleges Brock continued to enter into the polling precinct place several times throughout the hours of voting and communicated with other voters within the 30 and 150 rule of the voting precinct.
State of Mississippi requires that one must campaign, and all candidates that campaign, must remain within 150 feet of every entrance or front door of each of its polling place, according to Miss. Code Ann 23-15-895.
Calls to Brock were not returned by press time.