Hinds Co. Election Commissioners spar over absentee ballots

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - Republican Mitt Romney's campaign has sent letters to election officials in Wisconsin, Mississippi and Vermont demanding that the deadline for receiving ballots from military and overseas voters be extended.

In question are absentee military and overseas ballots that missed the deadline in Hinds County. The issue, absentee election ballots missed the state-imposed Sept. 22 deadline. The delay is of concern to military families who did not receive absentee ballots 45 days prior to the upcoming federal election.

Longtime Commissioner and now Chairman of the Hinds County Election Commission Jermal Clark is in charge. Clarke admitted Monday he lacks knowledge to complete the absentee ballots and claimed he was not properly trained. His colleague Commissioner Connie Cochran said he had the manual just like other election commissioners.

"I just can't believe that somebody would come before the Board of Supervisors, send letters all over the county admitting that they are too dumb to do the damn ballot," Cochran said as they stood before the Board of Supervisors to explain the problems.

"You are talking about somebody in charge of administrating," replied Clark. "It's your job. I do my job."

In an interview with WLBT News Tuesday Clark discussed the problems.

"I think this is a ploy on the part of the Republican Party to overthrow the elections in Hinds County," Clark said. "The motive is so that you have lawsuits posted and filed so that the election would be overthrown."

Military families and those living overseas can cast ballots online. The dispute boils down to another issue. Chairman Clark wants to put the Democratic Party candidates on the ballot first.

Commissioner Cochran says the standard procedure has been to list candidates in alphabetical order.

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