Circuit Clerk: Ballot Box recount canceled in Hinds Co. sheriff’s race
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A challenge to the Nov. 23 sheriff’s election has been terminated, so says Hinds County Circuit Clerk Zach Wallace.
Wallace informed Marshand Crisler of the news Thursday afternoon.
“You were informed by my office, in error, that the deadline to file a request for a ballot box examination was Wednesday, December 15,” the clerk wrote. “Mississippi Code... sets forth the procedure for a candidate to examine the contents of the ballot boxes subsequent to an election. Your request does not comport with the statute, therefore a ballot box examination will not be held for the special runoff election.”
Crisler was asking for a ballot box examination, saying there were voter irregularities in the Nov. 23 runoff.
The interim sheriff challenged the results of the race after losing approximately 5,000 votes.
Wallace’s letter comes shortly after Hinds County Sheriff Tyree Jones demanded the challenge be blocked, saying his former opponent did not request the examination within the timeframe allowed by state statute.
“According to the language in MS Code 23-15-991, a candidate has 12 days from the date of an election certification to conduct a box examination and the opponent must receive correspondence reflecting this request... within three days.”
The runoff election was certified by the Hinds County Election Commission on December 3.
However, Jones said he did not receive notification of Crisler’s request until December 15.
“Based on the date of the certification of the election and the date of which this request was served, the 12-day period to conduct a box examination has expired,” Jones wrote.
Jones’ letter was sent to Wallace on December 16, hours after Wallace and members of the election commission met to make preparations for the review.
At the time, Wallace said Crisler was expected to review the ballots Monday. However, a time for the review to take place has not been set.
“With the box examination, you have 12 days after certification, which is December 15 at 5 o’clock, to give circuit clerk notice,” Wallace said at the time. “The box examination is to see if any issues came up to change the numbers of the votes. That’s where we are right now.”
In a letter to the clerk, Crisler sought permission to review all ballot boxes, citing voter irregularities. The boxes for all 108 precincts are currently located at the election commission’s headquarters and are sealed shut.
Wallace did not know what inconsistencies Crisler was referring to, and Crisler did not specify what irregularities he was talking about.
The circuit clerk said the only issue that he was aware of was two unused media sticks not being turned in on election night.
Media sticks are flash drives that record votes on each of the voting machines used at the county’s voting precincts.
Some media sticks were not turned in because they were assigned to machines that were not used.
District 4 Election Commissioner Yvonne Horton said poll workers likely didn’t realize they were required to turn in the sticks from unused machines along with the drives from machines that were used.
“If they weren’t turned in, that means the machines were not used, so they came in with a zero tally on paperwork,” Wallace said. “The machines were not used, so the tally sheet was zero.”
Crisler, who was not at election commission headquarters Thursday, could not be reached for comment.
Prior to filing his response with the clerk’s office, Jones said he was not going to let this distraction keep him from serving Hinds County.
“As you all know, I was made aware of the situation yesterday evening, at about 4:20. I was in my office and I understood that Marshand Crisler’s wife, Ms. Eva Howard Crisler, was at the front desk requesting me,” Jones said. “I went to the front desk... met with her and she handed me an envelope, and included in that envelope was a letter stating that Marshand Crisler desired to do a box examination, according to his rights and according to the laws of the state of Mississippi.”
“I am the sheriff at this particular time and I plan to stay the elected sheriff. The people of Hinds County have spoken. While we do have to respect the desires of Marshand Crisler and his request for the box examination. Let me say this as well, I trust the process and the people that are responsible for the integrity of the Hinds County election process as well.”
A copy of Wallace’s letter is shown below.
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