Dispute surrounds Hinds County election commissioner

Controversy following the Jackson general election on Nov. 4 surrounds Hinds County Election Commission Chairwoman Connie Cochran. Cochran allegedly provided merely half the ballots required by law. In Hinds County, election commissioners are required by law to provide enough ballots to account for 75 percent of the registered voters. The number of printed ballots required by law totals 116,934, while Cochran reported having only 58,350 on hand during the election.

According to Hinds County Republican Party Chairman Pete Perry, the problem was widespread and an estimated 40 precincts failed to provide the sufficient amount of ballots. The incident caused long lines and delays at many precincts throughout the county while the polls waited for additionally printed ballots.

“Many people were getting mad and leaving,” Perry said.

This sparked an additional lack of participation in the Nov. 4 general election that some argue may have caused a skewed curve in the election results. Throughout the day election officials delivered additional ballots to the precincts that had run out.
Cochran referred to the incident as “inexcusable” and admits that she broke the law by providing insufficient ballots.

“All I can do is apologize to people who call and let them know it won’t happen again,” she told The Clarion-Ledger.

The situation was also referred to as “inexcusable” by Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.

While the election was Nov. 4, Cochran stated that the election results were not expected to be certified until Nov. 14 (the maximum amount of days after the election) and that she and the election commission employees were working diligently to account for the missing ballots properly. She said the delay is also attributed to the fact that the Hinds County resolution board did not meet until the following Wednesday to count the remaining votes that failed to be scanned.

The estimated 200 Hinds County Ballots that have yet to be added to the unofficial totals reveals other flaws with the general election of Nov. 4 as well. Of the 200 ballots, 19 included voters that failed to present proper photo identification or any proof of voter’s identification. There were reportedly over 100 more absentee ballots that were not properly accounted for by precinct workers. An additional 53 included military affidavits and ballots that failed to be scanned due to damage.

While the reported uncounted ballots are not expected to yield any significant changes in the unofficial results, Hosemann and Hinds County supervisor Robert Graham have both asked for an investigation into the polling problems and it is possible that further investigation will take place.

According to the Hattiesburg-American, supervisor Peggy Hobson-Calhoun said any investigation and punishment falls on the shoulders of the Attorney General’s office. Nevertheless, Cochran said she will be ordering the required number of ballots for the Nov. 25 runoff.

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