The paper ballots for the special election and the runoff for the two open Hinds County Supervisor seats won't be counted at Hinds County precincts. They will all end up in the court house basement, to be run through a scanner.
The move is not sitting well with District 5 Supervisor Kenneth Stokes, who hand-delivered a complaint to the Secretary of State's Office Tuesday morning.
"The concern is, when you use paper ballots and you're not gonna count them at the precinct, then the boxes can be stuffed, accountability is an issue about who will receive what votes," Stokes says, adding that his constituents have been complaining. But Election Commissioner Connie Cochran says the scanner had to be leased for the special election because of decisions the Board of Supervisors made.
"The parties, Republican and Democratic parties, got together and said that is what they jointly agreed upon to have happen, because of the Board of Supervisors not wanting to pay for it," Cochran says.
During the summer, some Supervisors, including Stokes, said the County couldn't afford to fund a primary. But state law said they had to. The matter almost went to court until Board President Robert Graham decided to support it. The vote was 3-2 in favor of funding the special election.
Cochran says there's been no time to properly train all poll workers on the new voting machines, which will tally votes at the precincts. The central tallying machine, she says, is cost-efficient.
"Each precinct manager will bring the ballots, bring them to the court house. This piece of equipment will be down the hall in public view. The ballot box will be opened by each precinct and go through the scanner, and it will be tabulated at that point," Cochran says.
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