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‘They were both very well-run elections’: Reviews of Brookhaven’s elections confirm results

With a representative from the Mississippi Democratic Party looking on, three candidates who made unsuccessful bids for public office in the June 6 municipal election picked through absentee envelopes and tape receipts from ward ballot boxes Friday.

David D. “SWAC” Smith, David McCoy and Marilyn Dow-Harris each reviewed election results in the county courtroom. Dow-Harris didn’t explain her reason for questioning the election results. McCoy said he just wanted to make sure that the election had been run fairly and Smith wanted to inspect voter signatures.

Dow Harris, who ran for alderman-at-large against incumbent Karen Sullivan, a Republican, spent over two hours going through the boxes. Dow-Harris lost by 144 votes.

The boxes, unsealed Friday to meet the three candidates’ requests to inspect them, included poll worker supplies, absentee envelopes, tape receipt and a sign-in book.

Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Dustin Bairfield and Deputy City Clerk Samantha Melancon, who oversaw the election, were in attendance.

Dow-Harris was joined by Falana McDaniel, Maxine Jones and Jacqueline Amos, a representative of the Mississippi Democratic Party.

“I was just making sure the voting process went fairly,” Amos said.

Amos, who represented both Marilyn Dow-Harris and David McCoy Friday, wanted to make sure that both candidates understood the process of what happened and how it happened.

“They were both very well-run elections. I just told Dustin that I am a connoisseur of the work. The work was done correctly but the voters just didn’t turn out,” Amos said.

McCoy, who ran for alderman of Ward 6, reviewed his election results with Jones and Amos for one hour.

“Mr. McCoy lost by five votes. I’m pretty sure there is a household with five people that could have voted,” said Amos. “I’m pleased with the outcome of the work itself. Obviously, we’re disappointed with the voter turnout for the candidates but it’s a work in progress and we will get ready for the next election.”

McCoy actually lost by seven votes — McCoy’s 185 votes to Shelley Harrigill’s 192, Bairfield said. Harrigill ran as an independent.

“David McCoy called me the day after the election with a valid question, asking if somebody had to have 50 percent in order to take office,” Bairfield said.

In the general election, they did not.

Before the election, Bairfield received a decision from Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann that whoever received the most votes would win, regardless if someone didn’t have 50 percent plus one. There would be no run-off election.

Bairfield said having Amos attend the inspection Friday helped the process.

“Even though she represents the party of Dow-Harris and McCoy, it was someone that relayed to the candidates that she saw a fair election, with no complaints and actually complimented the poll workers on being organized and neat,” Bairfield said.

Both Dow-Harris and McCoy declined to make a comment, but accepted the results.

Smith, who was defeated by incumbent Mayor Joe Cox, a Republican, was the last to review election results. He, Helen Smith and Carolyn Crump reviewed the results for over an hour. His main concern was with voter signatures, he said.

“I just wanted to take a look at the whole process,” Smith said. “I was disappointed in the voter turnout but I would still like to congratulate Mayor Cox. He’s our mayor and we all need to support him.”

There are two ways to challenge a voter, Bairfield said. One is for the candidate or a representative of a candidate to challenge a voter at the polling place the day of the election. For example, if a candidate or their representative sees someone there that they believe doesn’t live here, they could challenge the voter before they cast a ballot.

“The way you challenge the absentee ballots, is before they are opened,” Bairfield said. “If you’re going to challenge absentee ballots for not having a witness or signature, you can challenge it at 7 p.m. at the voting location.”

Bairfield said the candidates wanted to look at the numbers.

“So what the candidates are doing today, they’re coming to examine the ballot boxes and see if the numbers match up,” said Bairfield. “Therefore, when the candidates leave here, I feel like it will let them know that it was a fair election.”

Of the 7,514 registered voters in Brookhaven, only 3,340 ballots were cast, or 44.45 percent.