BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Scott DeLano plans to contest the results of the District 50 Senate race after a missing thumb drive created a one-vote lead for his opponent Dixie Newman.
During Wednesday’s affidavit ballot count, the Biloxi councilwoman pulled ahead of her opponent. The tables turned when a thumb drive, one of two from the the North Bay Precinct, turned up and it was determined it had not been counted. When the votes on that drive were counted, Newman pulled ahead by one vote.
Three affidavit ballots were not opened during that count because the voters did not have proper ID on election day. But WLOX News Now has learned that the votes were not in the district for that state senate seat, meaning even if the proper identification was presented and the votes were counted, they wouldn’t impact the District 50 Senate race.
DeLano told WLOX New Now on Thursday he will be asking for a “physical count of all the ballots and election day materials.” State law allows for a candidate a “full examination of the ballot box(es) and their contents.”
DeLano said his team is drafting the required notification letter to the GOP Executive Committee, the circuit clerk and Newman.
“These elections are not for the candidate, they are for the voters,” DeLano said. “We are going to ensure that each vote is counted properly.”
WLOX spoke with Newman, and she said she is confident the result of the election will remain the same.
“If the shoe was on the other foot I would also be asking for a recount, so it’s within his right to do so. We’re just going to be hoping for a positive outcome and we ask our supporters to continue to pray for us,” she said. “Regardless those numbers would have shown up eventually compared to the books. We’re going to hit the ground running for now, if the results change, then they change, but we’re going to stay positive.”
Circuit Clerk Connie Ladner said this is the first election the county put more than one ballot scanner at some precincts. Each of Harrison County’s 53 voting precincts always have one ballot scanner, the machine voters feed their ballot into after marking their choices. This election in an effort “to alleviate some of the long lines, we put two machines at some of the busiest precincts,” Ladner said.
Ten precincts throughout the county had two ballot scanning machines. The information from each scanner ends up on a thumb drive, and that info is read off the drive to get the master vote total election night.
Though the bags that carry all of the election materials from the precincts to the courthouse for tallying were marked if they had two thumb drives, someone failed to remove one of the two North Bay precinct drives from the bag Tuesday night. That mistake was discovered Wednesday afternoon as the election commission verified the affidavits and reconciled the election books and other materials. Once they confirmed those votes on the second North Bay drive were not in the Tuesday tally, they were added to the count along with the handful of affidavit ballots.
The District 50 seat is vacant after Tommy Gollott announced his retirement in February. Gollot was the longest serving state lawmaker in Mississippi history at the end of the 2019 legislative session.