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Uncounted ballots discovered in Dist. 4 election commissioner race

Lincoln County’s historic one-vote decision in the District 4election commissioner race earlier this month may be hanging in thebalance after election officials discovered that some paper ballotswent uncounted on Nov. 4.

Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Terry Lynn Watkins saidapproximately 35 absentee and affidavit ballots from District 4’sJohnson Precinct were improperly handled after the Nov. 4 generalelection and were not counted with the precinct’s electronic voteson election night.

The uncounted ballots could potentially change the results ofthe race for Lincoln County Election Commission District 4, wherecommissioner-elect Janie Sisco defeated 20-year incumbent CharlesMonroe Smith by a vote of 1,580 to 1,579.

Watkins said Johnson Precinct Box Manager Glenn Wallace admittedto placing the ballots in the box’s supply bag rather than lockingthem in the ballot box as per regulation. As a result, the ballotswere missed when the box was checked in.

“They’re still in there, I’m assuming,” Watkins said. “Wehaven’t touched anything [since Election Day].”

Watkins said she contacted Sisco and Smith to let them know ofthe situation. She is waiting for guidance from MississippiSecretary of State Delbert Hosemann, whom she will contactMonday.

The impact of the missing votes on the election remainsunclear.

Even so, due to health concerns, Smith has stated before that hemay not accept a win in the race even if a recount goes in hisfavor.

“All I’m after is to make sure this process is correct,” Smithsaid last week. “If [Sisco] wins, that’s OK – she’s a very finelady and capable of doing the job. But I do think things need to bechecked.”

Sisco believes the possible addition of the uncounted ballotswould only strengthen her victory.

The Johnson Precinct – at which many of her family members vote- was her strongest precinct, Sisco said. She said she won theelection by approximately 100 votes at that precinct.

Sisco also said she is not angry over the mishandling of theballots; she’s just ready to move on and get to work as an electioncommissioner.

“I’m just ready to finish it,” she said. “We need to finish thisup and get it certified. I can’t make plans as far as my trainingand planning until the election is certified.”