Election commissioner contest finally settled

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thirty-five uncounted District Four ballots misplaced onElection Day will not be counted and Janie Sisco’s one-vote victoryover incumbent Charles Smith in the race for Lincoln CountyElection Commission will stand, said Lincoln County Circuit ClerkTerry Lynn Watkins.

Watkins said the approximately 30 absentee and five affidavitballots mishandled at the Johnson Precinct and overlooked duringvote counting on Nov. 4 will remain sealed and stored for two yearsalong with all other ballots, as instructed by the MississippiAttorney General’s Office.

Watkins said a judge would decide whether the ballots would beopened and counted only in the event that Smith contests theresults, a right that he has officially waived.

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“We’re just going to keep the ballots preserved like they are now,”she said. “[Smith] isn’t going to challenge, and the election hasbeen certified.”

Smith could not be reached for comment Tuesday or Wednesdaymorning.

Now, more than two weeks after the polls closed, Sisco – who wonthe election by a vote of 1,580 to 1,579 – can finally assume thetitle of election commissioner-elect.

“I’m just excited that it’s over with,” she said. “I’m ready tomove on, get everything scheduled and get my training under way.I’m ready to learn. I love a new challenge, and I think this willbe a good challenge.”

Sisco described her one-vote victory, followed by two weeks ofuncertainty, as a “unique” experience – her first from thecandidate’s side. She believes she would not have won the electionhad she not spent the entire month of October campaigningdoor-to-door.

As for the 35 uncounted ballots, Sisco is torn between curiosityand contentment.

“Part of me wants to open them, because I feel like most of themwould be for me – that was a box that I carried,” Sisco said. “Butthen a part of me doesn’t, because I feel like the one votedefinitely made history.”

Basically, Sisco said she didn’t want to ruin the “coolness” of herone-vote victory.

“I think it’s cool – I do,” she said.