Affidavit Ballots Under The Microscope - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

11/04/04

Affidavit Ballots Under The Microscope

On election day, poll workers placed affidavit ballots in special envelops. Two days later, election commissioners determined if they should be counted.

"Not approved. Wrong precinct," said one commissioner, as she went through her pile of questionable ballots.

Tommy Esposito is a Harrison County Election Commissioner.

"The amount of affidavits doesn't matter," he said. "What matters is how many affidavits are acceptable by law."

That determination started in a small office. Connie Ladner and two other deputy circuit clerks looked up the name of each voters who filled out an affidavit ballot.

"We're checking to see if the people are registered to vote," said Ladner, "if they went to the wrong precinct, or if they were purged."

The clerks wrote that information onto a form, and attached it to the affidavit ballot. The pile then went across the hall to the election commission table. Invalid ballots got thrown out.

"Like for instance Phyllis has one right here," said election commissioner Toni Jo Diaz. "We can't even verify the information on the affidavit."

Legal ballots were added to the race. So there was a remote chance the new total could drop the coliseum referendum below the 60% mark it needed to be approved. Yet nobody from either side of that fight observed the affidavit counting.

"I guess they're just interested in the unofficial totals," said Harrison County Circuit Clerk Gayle Parker.

The final Harrison County vote totals will be released after the last affidavit ballot are scrutinized. That will likely be sometime on Friday.

by Brad Kessie

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