Challenge to add Democratic candidate to state ballot creating angst on Coast

Challenge to add Democratic candidate to state ballot creating angst on Coast

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A last-minute challenge to add another Democratic candidate's name to the state primary presidential ballot on March is causing a problematic ripple effect in South Mississippi.

One day after the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that Dr. Willie Wilson should have never been left off the ballot, adding his name isn't a simple task - and Coast leaders are feeling the pinch.

"The election is ready. The machines have been tested. The cards are sealed in the machines," said Connie Ladner, Harrison County Circuit Clerk. "Everything's set."

Now, election officials may have to start from scratch. Circuit clerks in South Mississippi are worried about the cost of reprinting ballots, and the time to reprogram all of the voting machines.

Ladner says it could cost taxpayers $40,000; not counting work time by volunteers.

"It takes months to put on a primary. If I'm upset with anybody, it's over the length of time it took this process to get some sort of resolution," said Rennick Taylor, chair of the elections committee for the Harrison County Democratic party. "Because now we're up against a wall."

On Thursday, the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of Wilson, and ordered the Secretary of State to add to his name to the primary ballot. Wilson's name was left off even though he turned in the paperwork on time.

Even if his name eventually gets on the ballot, there is another issue with absentee ballots - military absentee ballots have already been sent out.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann has appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court on the grounds that the decision is discriminatory against military personnel, because they won't have the same ballots as everybody else.

Ladner says she is waiting for word from the Secretary of State's office before doing any changes to the ballot and reprogramming the machines.

The problems didn't effect Bessie Ray, one of more than 400 to cast absentee ballots in Harrison County so far.

"My mind was made up," Ray said. "So it wouldn't matter who was added to the ballot on the Democratic list, because Bessie already knew who she was going to vote for."

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